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The evolution of popular music: USA 1960–2010

June 18, 2015 Comments off

The evolution of popular music: USA 1960–2010
Source: Royal Society Open Science

In modern societies, cultural change seems ceaseless. The flux of fashion is especially obvious for popular music. While much has been written about the origin and evolution of pop, most claims about its history are anecdotal rather than scientific in nature. To rectify this, we investigate the US Billboard Hot 100 between 1960 and 2010. Using music information retrieval and text-mining tools, we analyse the musical properties of approximately 17 000 recordings that appeared in the charts and demonstrate quantitative trends in their harmonic and timbral properties. We then use these properties to produce an audio-based classification of musical styles and study the evolution of musical diversity and disparity, testing, and rejecting, several classical theories of cultural change. Finally, we investigate whether pop musical evolution has been gradual or punctuated. We show that, although pop music has evolved continuously, it did so with particular rapidity during three stylistic ‘revolutions’ around 1964, 1983 and 1991. We conclude by discussing how our study points the way to a quantitative science of cultural change.

Examining Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the Plight of Vietnam Veterans

May 15, 2015 Comments off

Examining Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the Plight of Vietnam Veterans (PDF)
Source: Iowa Historical Review

Human beings have been afflicted by the lasting mental effects of warfare for thousands of years. Over twenty – four hundred years ago, the Greek historian Herodotus wrote of a soldier at the battle of Marathon who, after witnessing the death of the soldier next to him, went completely blind, despite being “wounded in no part of his body.” William Shakespeare, too, saw the effects of war on the minds of its survivors. After her husband’s return from war in King Henry IV, Lady Percy wonders of him, “What is’t that takes from thee thy stomach, pleasure, and thy golden sleep?” Both of these writings reference a mental disorder seemingly caused by the intense traumas of war. This disorder has gone by many different names, including shell shock, the thousand – yard stare, and war neurosis. Today, we classify this disorder as post – traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

CRS — Military Service Records and Unit Histories: A Guide to Locating Sources (February 27, 2015)

April 23, 2015 Comments off

Military Service Records and Unit Histories: A Guide to Locating Sources (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

This guide provides information on locating military unit histories and individual service records of discharged, retired, and deceased military personnel. It includes contact information for military history centers, websites for additional sources of research, and a bibliography of other publications.

This report will be updated as needed.

CRS — U.S. Periods of War and Dates of Current Conflicts (February 27, 2015)

April 23, 2015 Comments off

U.S. Periods of War and Dates of Current Conflicts (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Many wars or conflicts in U.S. history have federally designated “periods of war,” dates marking their beginning and ending. These dates are important for qualification for certain veterans’ pension or disability benefits. Confusion can occur because beginning and ending dates for “periods of war” in many nonofficial sources are often different from those given in treaties and other official sources of information, and armistice dates can be confused with termination dates. This report lists the beginning and ending dates for “periods of war” found in Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations, dealing with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). It also lists and differentiates other beginning dates given in declarations of war, as well as termination of hostilities dates and armistice and ending dates given in proclamations, laws, or treaties. The dates for the recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq are included along with the official end date for Operation New Dawn in Iraq on December 15, 2011, and Operation Enduring Freedom on Afghanistan on December 28, 2014. This report will be updated when events warrant. For additional information, see the following: CRS Report RL31133, Declarations of War and Authorizations for the Use of Military Force: Historical Background and Legal Implications, by Jennifer K. Elsea and Matthew C. Weed, and CRS Report R42738, Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-2015, by Barbara Salazar Torreon.

U.S. Department of State — Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs Release of Newly Digitized Foreign Relations Volume on the Assassination of President Abraham Lincoln

April 15, 2015 Comments off

Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs Release of Newly Digitized Foreign Relations Volume on the Assassination of President Abraham Lincoln
Source: U.S. Department of State

The Appendix to Diplomatic Correspondence of 1865 is a unique volume in the Foreign Relations series. Unlike the rest of the series, this volume was not produced to tell the story of U.S. foreign policy. Instead, it embodied the grief and shattered hopes expressed by foreign governments, civic groups, opinion leaders, religious organizations, professional societies, and ordinary laborers, both at home and abroad, upon learning of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination on the evening of April 14, 1865. In doing so, the volume recorded a remarkable global wave of admiration for one of the United States’ greatest leaders. On multiple continents, governments declared periods of mourning for the slain U.S. President and non-governmental associations commemorated Lincoln as a champion of liberty and spokesperson for the aspirations of common people.

The volume also served more subtle contemporary purposes. In showing foreign officials the orderly transition of power from Lincoln to Vice President Andrew Johnson, the volume testified to the durability of the U.S. Government, even amidst unprecedented strain. In some ways, the Appendix to Diplomatic Correspondence of 1865 volume was an early and widely-circulated Lincoln memorial, one that still reflects the hopes and values that Lincoln’s contemporaries ascribed to him, as well as the enduring faith that Americans place in the constitutional system that he fought to preserve.

This release is part of the Office of the Historian’s ongoing project, in partnership with the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections Center, to digitize the entire Foreign Relations series. The University graciously provided high quality scanned images of each printed book, which the Office further digitized to create a full text searchable edition. This volume is available online and as a free ebook on the Office of the Historian’s website.

FALQs: Soviet Investigation of Nazi War Crimes

April 1, 2015 Comments off

FALQs: Soviet Investigation of Nazi War Crimes
Source: Law Library of Congress

Recently, people all over the world remembered how the Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated 70 years ago on January 27, 1945. Our readers might be interested to learn about the legal basis for the Soviet authorities’ involvement in the collection of evidence, investigation of crimes committed in the camp, and the prosecution and punishment of the perpetrators of these and other crimes. While the most notorious Nazi war criminals were tried in Nuremberg, and those accused of murdering people in Auschwitz were prosecuted later in separate trials in Poland and Germany, the collection of evidence and prosecution of war crimes had started well before the Soviets liberated Auschwitz.

CRS — Defense Authorization and Appropriations Bills: FY1970-FY2015 (March 10, 2015)

March 24, 2015 Comments off

Defense Authorization and Appropriations Bills: FY1970-FY2015 (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The passage of the Department of Defense (DOD) authorization and appropriations bills through Congress often does not follow the course laid out in textbooks on legislative procedure. Tracking DOD authorization or appropriation bills can be confusing and time-consuming. This has been particularly true in recent years, when continuing resolutions (CRs) containing the DOD and other appropriation bills have been passed in lieu of the 12 regular appropriations bills for the entire U.S. government.

This report is a research aid which lists the DOD authorization bills (Table 1) and appropriations bills (Table 2) for FY1970-FY2015. This report includes all the pertinent information on the passage of these bills through the legislative process: bill numbers, report numbers, dates reported and passed, recorded vote numbers and vote tallies, dates of passage of the conference reports with their numbers and votes, vetoes, substitutions, dates of final passage, and public law numbers. Key definitions are also included. This report will be updated as legislative activity warrants.

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