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The Bones are Richard’s

It’s Richard

Researchers in England confirmed this morning that the skeleton found underneath a Leicester car park is indeed that of Richard III, last Plantagenet king and the last king of the country to fall in battle.

There were cheers when Richard Buckley, lead archaeologist on the hunt for the king’s body, finally announced that the university team was convinced “beyond reasonable doubt” that it had found the last Plantagenet king, bent by scoliosis of the spine, and twisted further to fit into a hastily dug hole in Grey Friars church, which was slightly too small to hold his body.

—The Guardian UK

I’ve long been fascinated by Richard and the War of the Roses; Shakespeare’s smear job/propaganda piece Richard III is my favorite of all the Bard’s work. I also loved the Ian McKellen cinema version of the play from 1995, which set the play in a 1930s fascist setting.

But it was Sharon Kay Penman’s fictional alternative, The Sunne In Splendour: A Novel of Richard III that captured my attention when it came out. It’s a portrait of the events, including the princes in the tower, done from Richard’s perspective, showing the perfidy of Henry Tudor and the Stanleys.

But now we have the real skeleton of the Last Plantagenet, curved spine and all and it’s a starting point towards separating reality from myth and truth from Tudor propaganda. Fascinating stuff.

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Academic Paywall Monetization Kills

The political consequences of academic paywalls

The suicide of Aaron Swartz, the activist committed to making scholarly research accessible to everyone, has renewed debate about the ethics of academic publishing. Under the current system, academic research is housed in scholarly databases, which charge as much as $50 per article to those without a university affiliation. The only people who profit from this system are academic publishers. Scholars receive no money from the sale of their articles, and are marginalized by a public who cannot afford to read their work. Ordinary people are denied access to information and prohibited from engaging in scholarly debate.

Excellent reporting from Dr. Sarah Kendzior on

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Jayne Cortez, RiP

Jayne Cortez: 10-May-34 — 28-Dec-12

“The poet Jayne Cortez, who has died aged 78, was unambiguous about her craft: “Words are musical – there’s nothing more to say about it. That’s it! … There is the sound of the voice … and your attitude you put on top of it.”

“And if we don’t fight

if we don’t resist

if we don’t organise and unify and

get the power to control our own lives

then we will wear

the exaggerated look of captivity

the stylised look of submission

the bizarre look of suicide

the dehumanised look of fear

and the decomposed look of repression

forever and ever and ever

And there it is.”

Lengthier obit at the New York Times.

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How Many Slaves Work for You?

How Many Slaves Work For You?

My number was 43 … If anything, it shows that not much has changed in 150 years. Troubling that 150 years represents just … a slow beginning.

Background: The history/journalist geek in me notes that today is the Sesquicentennial of the Emancipation Proclamation – it’s Jubilee Day. Five days after the bloodiest single day in American history (Sept. 17, 1862) left 23,000 dead, injured or missing in the fields, lanes and bridges around Antietam, MD, Lincoln issued his preliminary proclamation, which went into effect 100 days later, Jan. 1, 1863. It helped keep Britain and France out of the war and led to the passage of the 13th Amendment in December of 1865. Lincoln referred to it again on the field of Gettysburg when he spoke of a “new birth of freedom.”

Slavery, even in the United States, still exists in various forms, however. reports that between 12 and 27 million people worldwide are estimated to be enslaved. The State Dept. estimates that 600,000-800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year to feed the market. More than 70% of those are female, half are children.

Demand for goods and services produced by trafficking victims is what makes human trafficking a multi-billion dollar industry. So, on this sesquicentennial, get an estimate on how your lifestyle feeds the trafficking industry from Take the survey and find out … how many slaves work for you?

My number? 43. An estimated 43 human beings held against their will, around the world and here in the US, work to make things like our furniture, my iPad, the fruits and vegetables in our refrigerator.

In other words, celebrate today as the moment when slavery yielded to freedom, a moment purchased by the blood of a million Americans in the Civil War. And remember today that we still have much work to do to ensure that that blood expenditure was not made in vain.

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