Once and Future Soviet Cybernetics: Highlights from Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports

Within the March 2014 release of Joint Publications Research Service Reports are more than 100 items indexed to the subject term “Cybernetics.” Most of these reports were published during the decade between 1966 and 1976. They reflect the rapidly increasing interest in, and development of, information technology, bionics, and systems analysis. Examples of this expanding capacity, and the challenges and opportunities presented by this new technology, are highlighted this month.

ACADEMICIAN GLUSHKOV FORETELLS FUTURE OF CYBERNETICS
Written in language easily understood by the layman, this 1968 monograph explores the potential of the digital frontier. Almost 50 years later, it is interesting to look back at this early stage in the development of cybernetics and to assess the predictions of a prominent Soviet scholar. The author, V. Glushkov, is described as a “Lenin Prize Winner and Vice-President of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences.”

BASIC TRENDS IN THE USE OF CYBERNETICS AND COMPUTERS IN MEDICINE IN CERTAIN COUNTRIES
Once and Future Soviet Cybernetics: Highlights from Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports

“America’s Rembrandt”: The Life of Thomas Eakins as Seen in America’s Historical Newspapers

Thomas Eakins (1844-1916) is recognized as one of the greatest American artists of the 19th century. While receiving little official recognition in his lifetime, he created profound realist works whose influence persists to this day. 

Eakins also played a leading and controversial role in American art education, pioneering the study of the anatomy and the human nude. He was among the first to use photography to study the human figure in motion, and his innovations as director of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts made it the leading art school in the United States.

Because he was out of step with the artistic sensibilities of his era, Eakins “sold only about 25 to 30 paintings in his lifetime,” as noted below in a review of a 1986 “American Masters” documentary, published in The Oregonian:

Things got so bad near the end of Eakins’ life that many people, after commissioning him to do portraits, rejected the final results, sometimes refusing to accept the paintings even when Eakins offered them free. Eakins painted what he saw, without cosmetic correction, so some of his subjects turned out to be less handsome or pretty than they had hoped and expected.

“America’s Rembrandt”: The Life of Thomas Eakins as Seen in America’s Historical Newspapers

Perspectives on Slavery and Secession: Highlights from The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922

Is slavery justified by the Bible? Is slavery an un-Christian institution or a commercial necessity? In early 19th-century America the answer to such questions depended on whom you asked. The initial release of The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes not only examples of these differing perspectives, but also retrospective accounts of both slavery and the secession movement.

The Rights and Duties of Slave-holders: Two Discourses, Delivered on Sunday, November 27, 1836, in Christ Church, Raleigh, North Carolina (1837)
By George Washington Freeman
Perspectives on Slavery and Secession: Highlights from The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922

Support of the Union through Verse, the Pen, and the Sword: Selected Highlights from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

The inside story of a secret society, a firsthand account of a naval pursuit, and a strongly worded argument in international relations—these three items only scratch the surface of the newly digitized materials in the initial release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian SocietyAn Authentic Exposition of the “K.G.C.”, “Knights of the Golden Circle”, or A History of Secession from 1834 to 1861 (1861)
Support of the Union through Verse, the Pen, and the Sword: Selected Highlights from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

Blogs of Yesteryear: Selected Highlights from American Pamphlets, 1820-1922

Before there were blogs, there were pamphlets. From the earliest days of American history, pamphlets provided ordinary citizens with the opportunity to comment on contemporary issues. Their subject matter was as broad, and sometimes as provocative, as that of today’s blogs.

The examples below—from the February 2014 release of American Pamphlets, Series 1, 1820-1922: From the New-York Historical Societyillustrate some of the diverse political, social, and commercial concerns addressed by these small printed works:

Blogs of Yesteryear: Selected Highlights from American Pamphlets, 1820-1922

Skylarking, Horseplay and Other Hazards of the Early 20th-Century Workplace: As Seen in the U.S. Congressional Serial Set

Just as an aimless stroll can allow you to find a new perspective on a project, casually browsing Readex’s Archive of Americana can lead to serendipitous discoveries. What began as an investigation of nautical terminology, specifically the term “skylarking,” ended by shedding light on several amusing judicial opinions reprinted in the U.S. Congressional Serial Set.

Originally, skylarking described the antics of sailors who climbed about their ship’s rigging and slid down its backstays for fun. The ancient word "lac" means "to play" and because the frolicking of these deckhands started high in the masts, the term "skylacing" was born. Over time the word changed to "skylarking" and was used to refer to horseplay in general.

At first, skylarking wasn’t used pejoratively. For sailors with free time, this boisterous activity was considered a better diversion than engaging in mutinous talk. However, by the mid-19th century skylarking in the U.S. Navy became an offense punishable by the lash. The term first appears in the Serial Set in the 1849 publication, “Report of the Secretary of the Navy, with returns of punishments in the Navy.”1 The punishment for skylarking was comparable to that given for disobedience of orders, fighting, taking grog, skulking, or drunkenness: three to ten “lashes with cats.”

Skylarking, Horseplay and Other Hazards of the Early 20th-Century Workplace: As Seen in the U.S. Congressional Serial Set

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