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  • Originally published 08/14/2013

    Stephen Mihm: New York Had a Hyperloop First, Elon Musk

    Stephen Mihm, an associate professor of history at the University of Georgia, is a contributor to the Ticker. Follow him on TwitterAh, the “hyperloop.” Elon Musk, whose track record as a technological visionary is unimpeachable, has released details of his plan for a futuristic system of transport. The basic idea is to use air pressure to shoot people-carrying pods through tubes at speeds of up to 760 miles per hour.With all due respect to Mr. Musk, the idea isn’t new. This has been pointed out by some commentators, who have noted that in 1972 Rand Corporation researcher R. M. Salter released a proposal to ferry passengers from New York to Los Angles in a mere 21 minutes, or 14 minutes less than the hyperloop would take to send them from Los Angeles to San Francisco. But at its heart, Musk’s project is even more old school: It owes most of its inspiration to ideas that have been around for two hundred years.

  • Originally published 08/13/2013

    NY marking state historic site's 1913 acquisition

    LITTLE FALLS, N.Y. — State parks officials and history buffs will gather at a historic site in the Mohawk Valley to mark the 100th anniversary of the property's acquisition by New York.Sunday afternoon's event is being held at the Herkimer Home State Historic site in Little Falls, 60 miles west of Albany.Gen. Nicholas Herkimer completed construction of his Georgian-style mansion after the French and Indian War ended in 1763, when the Mohawk Valley was New York's frontier. During the Revolutionary War, in August 1777, Herkimer was leading hundreds of American militiamen en route to relieve the siege at Fort Stanwix in present-day Rome when they were ambushed at Oriskany by a force British, loyalist and Indians....

  • Originally published 08/08/2013

    Veterans group, flying Gadsden flag, ruffles a city

    NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. — The way Moises Valencia describes things, it began with a simple idea.Seeing that the American flag flying outside the old military armory in the city needed replacing, he took it upon himself to contact local veterans about putting up a new one. For good measure, he shelled out about $16 online for a yellow Gadsden flag, bearing an image that dates back to 1775, of a coiled rattlesnake and the words “Don’t Tread on Me,” in case the veterans wanted to use that one, too.The way city officials see things, a group whose agendas go beyond purely patriotic ones decided to use a public space, the flagpole at the city-owned armory, to fly a banner that has come to symbolize the Tea Party and antipathy to government....

  • Originally published 08/03/2013

    Slave Revolt Rides on Broken Down Railroad

    Tellin’ Man Midtown International Theater Festival Dorothy Strelsin Theater 312 W. 36th Street New York, N.Y. Each summer, the festival stages fifty or so plays of different varieties at the midtown theater complex.There were five well known slave revolts in America prior to the Civil War: in New York in 1712, along the Stono River, in South Carolina, in 1740, in Richmond, Virginia in 1800, the Denmark Vesey revolt in Charleston in 1822 and the Nat Turner revolt in Virginia in 1831. Paul Gray’s new play, Tellin’ Man seems to be based most closely on the rebellion led by Gabriel Prosser in Richmond, Virginia, in 1800. In Gray’s play, as in the Prosser revolt, other slaves secretly told the owners of the rebellion and the slave owners worked with law enforcement to quash it.The Tellin’ Man is the story of James, who betrayed his fellow slaves, and what happened to him, his family and his friends after the leaders of the revolt were arrested. It is a narrow focus play about slavery and the eternal hope of those in bondage that they could be free.

  • Originally published 08/03/2013

    Fighting to Save a Sleazy Motel in Boston in the 1940s

    Motel Rasdell June Havoc Theater Midtown International Theater Festival 312 W. 36th Street New York, N.Y.Each summer, the festival presents fifty or so plays with a variety of themes as well as historyIn the 1940s, all proper Bostonian scoffed at the sleazy Motel Rasdell, a fictional hotel on the edge of the city. It was home to drug dealers, drug addicts on their “reefers,” derelicts, the homeless and hard edged hookers. Nobody ever mistook it for a dorm at Harvard, on the other side of the Charles River.It is also home to a bouncy new musical, Motel Rasdell, with an exuberant cast, a solid book and a charming, if harrowing, story.John is a reporter for a Boston newspaper and a womanizer in his personal life. He begins an affair with a hooker, Eve, who works at the Rasdell. He learns all about the wild life at the motel, and the illegality of just about everything that goes on there and writes a story about it. At the same time, his wife Jane catches him in his double life and leaves for Cape Cod, where she sulks on the beach. His two teenaged kids then try to run the house without her.

  • Originally published 07/10/2013

    Jim Sleeper: How Spitzer's Fall Showed He Deserves a Second Chance

    Jim Sleeper lectures in political science at Yale and posts frequently at TPM.New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's fall from office and public grace in 2008 was a tragedy in the strictest classical sense: The substance of his offenses paled before the shock of his stupidity and hypocrisy in committing them. You had to worry even more about his mentality than about his morality.What made the fall so stunning was not his infidelity and how he committed it but the sheer folly of one as tough and experienced as he'd proven himself to be in pursuit of others' far-more-consequential wrongdoings. That very toughness and experience made his tragedy a public one, because New Yorkers and all Americans at that time needed a real fighter -- one as good as Spitzer was on offense as well as defense -- against the casino-finance, corporate-welfare regime that would soon throw millions of people out of their homes and jobs.

  • Originally published 06/10/2013

    Home of bootleggers finally goes legit

    For decades, the last remnants of a Prohibition Era bootlegging operation shut down by federal authorities in 1932 have rested on a peaceful swath of farmland in upstate New York.Now, the property in rural Pine Plains, N.Y., is set to once again host a production facility for alcoholic beverages—this time, a legal one.Dutch's Spirits, founded by two friends who met as roommates at the University of Chicago, plans to build a new distillery there and host tours and tastings that incorporate the complex of bunkers and tunnels still on the site....

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