Gender Discrimination's First American Legal Precedent

Until 1976, the state of Oklahoma had a lower drinking age for women than for men. It was 21 for men, 18 for women. A court in Oklahoma upheld the law, because drunk-driving arrests and traffic injuries demonstrated that the gender-based discrimination was substantially related to the achievement of traffic safety on Oklahoma roads. But the case was appealed to the Supreme Court because it was claimed that the law violated the 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal protection for all citizens. The Supreme Court found that the law discriminated against men in Oklahoma between the ages of 18 and 20.

The Odd Story of How Singapore Gained Independence

Singapore joined Malaysia in 1962, after a nation-wide referendum where 70% of the population voted to merge. It officially joined with the Federation of Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak to become its 14th state. And since Singapore was a self-governing part of the British Empire at the time, the merger also ended 144 years of British rule.

Unfortunately was not a happy marriage. There was constant clashing between the Malayan and Singaporean political leadership over key issues like political approach, economic policy, and racial policy. Two years into the merger, Malaysia’s parliament voted unanimously to expel Singapore from Malaysia. Singapore was initially unwilling to leave but its government finally agreed to avoid further bloodshed. Which makes Singapore the only modern state to have gained its independence against its wishes.

When Eunuchs Could Marry

According to Chinese official historical records, there had been a historical record of eunuch marriage as early as the Eastern Han Dynasty. But they were not common until the Ming Dynasty. Starting in 1402, the Yongle Emperor quietly began allowing eunuchs to marry, as thanks for their significant contributions in Jingnan Rebellion which nearly knocked Yongle off his throne. From then on the marriage of eunuchs had legitimacy because it had the tacit approval of the emperor. The Yongle Emperor even awarded wedding to eunuchs who made significant contributions. These were, for obvious reasons, marriages for intimacy and companionship not children. Eunuch marriages remained common in the imperial court through the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1912.

Visa Found Showing Japanese Consul Helped Jewish Refugees

A visa has recently come to light that was issued by Saburo Nei, who was acting Japanese consul-general in the Soviet Union. The visa was issued to Simon Korentajer, a Jewish refugee who fled to Vladivostock ahead of the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939. Korentajer’s granddaughter, Kim Hydorn, has kept the document. It was issued by Nei in Vladivostock in 1941. The visa allowed Korentajer, his wife, and their daughter to escape to Japan, violating the policy held by that country’s Foreign Ministry. The Korentajer family spent about six years in Shanghai (which at the time was controlled by Japan) before they emigrated to San Francisco in 1947. This is the first visa issued by Nei to Jewish refugees to be recovered, although some records of them have been found. The number “21” was written on the document, indicating that Nei may have issued as many as 20 or more such visas.

"It is true that the police have exercised a degree of discipline in handling the demonstrators. In this sense they have conducted themselves rather "nonviolently" in public. But for what purpose? To preserve the evil system of segregation. Over the past few years I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends. Perhaps Mr. Connor and his policemen have been rather nonviolent in public, as was Chief Pritchett in Albany, Georgia, but they have used the moral means of nonviolence to maintain the immoral end of racial injustice. As T. S. Eliot has said: "The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason.""

Martin Luther King Jr.

Oldest Known Parasite Found in Chinese Fossils

Parasitism is, at heart, just a relationship between two organisms. Albeit a relationship in which one organism, the parasite, increases its own success by exploiting and harming another organism, the host. Exquisitely preserved 515-million-year-old fossils from southern China belonging to organisms called brachiopods show evidence of a relationship between the brachiopods' tubes and potentially parasitic worms. Specifically, the hardened tubes encrusting the surface of fossil brachiopod shells were once occupied by worms that took food that the brachiopod sucked into the tube. But how can fossils show that the relationship was harmful for the host? The new research showed that there was a clear negative effect, as brachiopods without the worms grew larger than those with the worms. Thus, the worms were parasites.

The English word “bank” comes from the Italian word “banco.” In late medieval Italy banks were family businesses consisting of a single large room with a counter, or “banco,” in the middle to separate customers from clerks and bookkeepers.

A new study has detected a large, rectangular platform made of earth in southern Mexico with the use of lidar technology. (Lidar employs lasers to generate 3-D models of vegetation-covered terrain.) The structure, thought to have been built by the Maya between 1000 and 800 BCE, measures more than 4,500 feet long by 1,300 feet wide and up to 50 feet tall. Because it is so wide, the structure seems like a natural part of the landscape to people on the ground. It was only from the air that the rectangular shape made it clear that this was, once upon a time, a structure. The remote-sensing survey also found nine causeways and reservoirs linked to the new find.

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    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

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