Blog: TTTThis

Lets Make a Phone-Sized Recording Studio


For those of you who have ever travelled and wanted to downsize, you might understand this.

Can it be done? Can a mobile phone be turned into a (privacy conscious, as always) recording studio?


  1. What phones can be rooted and AndroidOS removed, and Linux installed instead?
  2. Will the battery life still be good?
  3. Will a keyboard be easy to plug and play?
  4. Will the phone accept midi controller instruments through USB (just like a computer)?
  5. Will the phone accept a guitar signal well?
  6. Will the phone be capable of stereo sound recording through a mic or two-line audio interface?
  7. Will the phone be able to be plugged into a large monitor (along with the keyboard) when you want to?
  8. Will Audacity work on Linux Touch OS? Will other music programs, such as H2 drum machine and basic synthesizers?

It looks like the best option for a non-superuser to put Linux on a cellphone is Ubuntu Touch, a project built by the free and open source community, particularly the group UBPorts. This OS works on LG Google Nexus 4 and 5 phones. It also works on something called the Fairphone which I didnt spend time learning about, but would appreciate a rundown on the privacy conscious specifics as well as functionality limitations. I heard the Ubuntu Touch project isnt being maintained anymore, but from their site it looks like they're still making improvements. The phone, messaging, and stills camera now seem to be working, they say, and a bunch of Ubuntu apps, but a few things are still not fixed. The important one right now: Videos cant be played directly (not a problem really for our current subject directly, but if you want to use this studio as your phone and portable device as well it is). You can record them now I guess, but cant watch them on the phone (you could watch them on the phone through a browser though)

Battery life: People report that the battery is OK, but can drain faster. Not sure, but it doesnt sound terrible anyway.

Keyboard: Ive seen people plug in keyboards through the USB and it working.

Midi controllers: No videos of people doing this.

Recording: No videos. I have a concern that Ubuntu Touch might not be set up to run audio out of the box, because audio on Linux is tricky, and requires Jack or ALSA to work. Some Linux OSs have this set up already, particularly OSs made for audio production, and the user doesn't have to set anything up (which can be tricky or even basically impossible on other OSs). This is a question for Ubuntu Touch OS.

Stereo sound recording: Another unanswered question. Most phones dont do stereo sound. Nexus 5 doesnt either out of the box, but there have been some workarounds to get it working. I think these are all for playing sound, though, not for recording stereo sound through a dual channel audio signal connected through USB).

Audacity and other music apps on Ubuntu Touch: I havent seen this either, yet. Im going to see if I can get some information from the people at UBPorts.

Further reading on this subject:

This is the site to learn about Ubuntu Touch on phones:

A YouTube video on how to install Ubuntu Touch on a phone:

William Walker


May 8, 1824 in Nashville, Tennessee – September 12, 1860 in Trujillo, Honduras, by firing squad at age 36.

By age 25, he had studied, graduated and practices medicine, studied and practiced law, and worked as a co-owner and editor of a newspaper on the East Coast before moving to California. Walker is noted to have engaged in three duels with guns, one with a notorious Wild West gunman after he insulted him in the paper he was editor of in San Francisco. During these years before beginning his enterprises in Latin America, Walker was involved in owning and running a newspaper.

In 1953, he set out to conquer lands in Latin America, first in Mexico (and took over some of sparsely-populated Baja) with 45 men, and then after retreating in fear of the Mexican government, he was tried in California for waging an illegal war but was acquitted by jury of his very popular act in 8 minutes.

In 1854, Walker went with an army to Nicaragua to aid one of the contending (and warring) political parties ("The Democrats," who were fighting "The Legitimists") as a hired army. Nicaragua had been in a civil war for decades at this time. Also notable was that Vanderbilt (the first "tycoon" of America) owned transport the San Juan river that was the main route for goods and travellers (an alternative to Panama) in the country, linking the Caribbean and the Pacific with the lake in the middle.

William Walker's book, "War in Nicaragua" written before 1860

Didn't take notes from the first 180 pages. I might go back and do that at some point.


There was a longstanding civil war in Nicaragua before Walker and his (150?) men were hired by one of the contending political parties, "The Democrats" who were the liberal party based in Leon. The Americans landed near San Juan del Sur (I think in El Gigante because they couldn't safely enter the San Juan bay). Their first fight came shortly thereafter, after a march to Rivas. After several battles, consisting of a few hundred participants each, the American and "Democratic" force defeated the force of the rival political party called "The Legitimists." Conflict continued to a degree.

Costa Rica declared war against the Americans in Nicaragua specifically. Costa Rica then caught the troops in Santa Rosa Guanacaste, unawares in an afternoon attack, and routed them. The army was depressed, many left or wanted to leave for America. Walker was preparing for a war with Costa Rica that the other three Central American states were likely to join Costa Rica against the Americans. The main strength of the army was moved to Rivas.

Although significantly dispirited, the Americans were able to add to their forces with new recruits making the passage between San Juan del Norte and San Juan del Sur (from the Caribbean to the Pacific). He added a couple of hundred that way. Also, it was proven that the large Costa Rican force was inferior to the American force combined with the ravages of disease. Various strains of Cholera were killing and laying low people everywhere in outbreaks. (The Americans had been attacked by a strain, Walker thought the probably the same strain, at Virgin Bay. He noted that "the spasms of this form of the disease are not so violent as those of the Asiatic cholera, nor does the patient sink so rapidly.) After their defeat by the Americans, the Costa Ricans (now many sick): "Its fatal effects were increased in the Costa Rican camp by the general depression of spirits which pervaded the officers as well as the men after they saw the results of the first conflict with the enemy they had come to drive, as they imagined, by easy marches, and by the mere force of their numbers, out of Central America."

At that juncture in his story, Walker comments that, "To destroy an old political organization is a comparatively easy task, and little besides force is requisite for its accomplishment; but to build up and re-constitute society -- to gather the materials from the four quarters, and construct them into an harmonious whole, fitted for the uses of a new civilization -- requires more than force, more even than genius for the work, and agents with which to complete it. Time and patience, as well as skill and labor, are needed for success; and they who undertake it, must be willing to devote a lifetime to the work."

The Provisional President moved to Leon, in large part to establish friendly relations with San Salvador (a place called "Cojutepeque" was where the San Salvador cabinet resided) but the commission to Cojutepeque was met with coldness and a statement was issued that "the presence of the Americans in Nicaragua threatened the independence of Central America." The tone was received as very insulting. But the tone of San Salvador became more peaceful when word reached them the Costa Ricans had retreated from Rivas. But soon news came that Guatemala was preparing troops to march on Nicaragua.

Walker was in Masaya when he received letters about events in Leon, where Rivas' government was. According to Walker's story, the military governor there had asked the Americans to guard an arms and ammunition storehouse, and when they were guarding it the government officials left their building hastily and rode through the streets proclaiming that the Americans were about to take Rivas prisoner and assassinate the ministers and chief men of the city. Restless locals took up arms. Rivas left the city, reportedly. The Americans prepared for a fight. Rivas was almost apprehended by American soldiers called to Leon on the road and thought the politicians making this movement was suspicious, but the American soldier in charge was counselled not to because "it would not be proper for a simple lieutenant to arrest the President and one of his Ministers." Walker left for Leon when notified. Rivas and his company were preparing to fight in Chinadega. Walker, not sure how many local leaders were going to ally with Rivas, planned to wait the arrival of his other forces and then formally march on Granada which then happened.

In Granada, Walker (at that time his title was 'general-in-chief') published a decree re-constructing the provisional government by virtue of an existing treaty that made it so naturalized Nicaraguans got equality of privileges with the native born, which President Rivas was not advocating. Walker then made a statement that he was denying the existing Provisional Government: after citing the 'unconstitutional crimes' of the government, he stated "With such accumulated crimes--conspiring against the very people it was bound to protect--the late provisional government was no longer worthy of existence. In the name of the people I have, therefore, declared its dissolution, and have organized a provisional government, until the nation exercises its natural right of electing its own rulers." Walker installed a new provisional president until the vote.

A few weeks later an election was held, "the voting was general in the Oriental and Meridional Departments" but other places didnt vote because some were controlled by Rivas (who was in Chinadega) and the Guatemalans had already entered Nicaragua in the north (the "Occidental Department"). The new provisional president declared the win for Walker, who had received "a large majority of the votes."

Walker was inaugurated on July 12, and his cabinet formed (a Minister of Relations, a Minister of War, a MInister of Hacienda and Public Credit). The government resided in Granada.

Two of the first things that happened after his inauguration. 1) A Costa Rican schooner, the San Jose, was seized in San Juan del Sur and condemned by a court for using the American flag and forfeited to the government of Nicaragua and converted into a schooner-of-war and armed with cannons. 2) he began diplomatic relations with an American Minister who had just arrived to do so (although the American government had thought Rivas was in charge when they dispatched him).

A few more arrivals of a hundred or so American men each arrived, one of them in Leon which was barricaded by Guatemalan forces.

To be continued ...

Cast of Characters, countries and Locations:

The National War of Nicaragua, as was called the contest between Nicaragua's two political parties in the 1800s, which were the liberal government (called "Democrats" and based in Leon, led at the time by Patricio Rivas) and the conservative government (called "the Legitimists" and based in Granada and led by ?? at the time). This contest often broke out into violence (ie civil war) in the 1840s and 1850s. It was part of this contest that the "Democrats" invited Walker to help them in 1955. Walker succeeded in defeating the conservative forces and made Patricio Rivas president. This civil war is not to be confused with the Nicaraguan civil war of 1926–1927.

Patricio Rivas, leader of the "Democrats," the liberal party in Nicaragua, based in Leon, engaged in civil war with conservative party, hired Walker and his force to defeat the conservatives party.

The Rifles - how the American forces under Walker in Nicaragua were called as a group. Walker arrived with (150?) men, but added to his forces several times as more Americans arrived, mostly in batches of a hundred or so as they crossed the San Juan Rivers between the Caribbean and the Pacific. They quickly became the most powerful (and main) military force in Nicaragua. Locals, according to Walker, were not interested in becoming soldiers for the civil war, and would rather do just about anything than fight with rifles. In this way, the American force was viewed by Walker as relieving the burden of conscripted fighting from the locals.

The Costa Ricans, the first force to enter Nicaragua (from the south) after the success of the American forces in the Nicaraguan civil war, after declaring war on Americans in Nicaragua while Rivas was still president. After initially routing the Americans in a surprise attack, their much larger force (over 1000? men), many of them having been infected with Cholera while in Nicaragua, fled after defeats by the American force. At the time, Costa Rica was led by President Juan Rafael Mora.

The Guatemalans, the second force to enter Nicaragua (from the north) to attack the Americans, who by then had elected Walker as president. At the time, Guatemala was led by President José Rafael Carrera Turcios (Rafael Carrera).

Contextual events of the era: Caste War of the Yucatan, American Civil War, liberals attempts to overthrow the Catholic Church and aristocrats power, Mexico Wars, boundary dispute between Belize and England, caudillos.

Previous to the Nicaraguan Civil War: Following the period of dramatic discovery and exploration in the New World in the first decades of the 1500s, the period of conquest began. In 1538, Spain created in its new territory the "Viceroyalty of New Spain" which included all of what is now Mexico and Central America except Panama. In 1570 this political entity was split and the southern half called the "Captaincy General of Guatemala." The land now known as Nicaragua belonged to this, and was at the time a group of administrative regions with its capital in Leon. (It was in 1610 that this "old" Leon was destroyed by the eruption of the volcano Momotombo, and afterwards Leon was reconstructed north of the original site). Between 1570 and 1821, the region had minor civil wars and rebellions which were subdued easily by the Spanish government there, as well as being the days of pirate raids, of which there were lots. Then in 1821 the land changed politically, first becoming part of the First Mexican Empire that year, then in 1823 part of the United Provinces of Central America, and in 1838 it became the independent republic of Nicaragua. From this point the rivalry between the two political parties in the country lead us to our subject with Walker.

The east of the country, the Caribean Coast or "Mosquito Cost" based on the town of Bluefields, has a separate political history from the western side of the land. Even today most of what happens in Nicaragua is all on the west side, where the biggest cities (and now the Pan American Highway) are, not only in Nicaragua but in Costa Rica to the south and El Salvador and Honduras to the north as well. There is a large space of mostly uninhabited land between this populated part and the Caribbean Coast. The Mosquito Coast was claimed by the UK between 1655 and 1838, then was designated to Honduras in 1859 and transferred to Nicaragua in 1860. But even after becoming part of Nicaragua in 1860 is remained autonomous until 1894. The Caribbean side doesn't feature much in our story, taking place around 1955: However, San Juan del Norte, the Caribbean end of the San Juan Rivers route between the two oceans, is in the south of Nicaragua on the Caribbean side.

Hong Kong 2019

It's nice to follow one story of current history. In 2014 I followed the civil war in South Sudan starting on December 15, 2013 when it first broke out. Since the start, both sides blamed the other and told their own accounts of events.

South Sudan was at the time "the world's youngest nation," a nation created by the U.S. when it helped split the south of the former country of Sudan into its own state, and for a couple of years South Sudan was considered to be a nice American triumph. The country called (just) Sudan now is the northern part, Muslim. The southern part, South Sudan, is Christian (and anamist). South Sudan had two large ethnicities, the Dinka (presisdent Kiir) and the Nuer (vice president Machar). People in the West will have a hard time understanding why tribal lines are so important in other countries, but a shorthand answer is that the tribes, besides having limitless historical grievances against each other (actions often taking the form of cattle and child raids - hard for Westerners to understand but cattle are the main/sole non-human unit in the economy) and natural racism, compete for control of limited resources in their region. Democracy (South Sudan is a democracy) in these places isn't a vote based on policy, but a vote to decide which group will have power to control those resources and make decisions over both groups.

A scuffle erupted in the government building of the capital, and immediately the country split in civil war along the lines of Dinka versus Nuer. Fighting took place throughout the country: the government and its army versus the army of the rebel tribe. The whole country was ravaged and everyplace was the scene of ongoing murder, rape, and other aggression, besides the army skirmishes.

No place was safe. The UN moved in to set up fenced camps to protect people. They asked for money and resources to take care of these people, but the resources they got were often stolen, damaged, or ill-used. There was no safe transport means in the country, so resources could not be distributed to other regions, even if once they got there they would be properly meted out. No one could grow crops and other work was also disrupted, so food became extremely scarce and people died of starvation.

Since weeks after the outbreak, every once in a while there is a planned meeting to discuss terms for peace, or a proposed peace deal. These always fall through for one reason or another, often with the rebel leader citing security concerns. The deals are brokered by the main country of the region, Ethiopia and its capital in Addis Ababa, where the rebel leader often seeks refuge. Ethiopia is the head of the trading block of East Africa, EAC.



This year is 2019. The story I think might be the best is Hong Kong. Citizens in Hong Kong are still very active against the legal authoritarian oppressions their new (since 1997) Chinese rulers are implementing in the former British colony. Remember the Umbrella Revolution from 2014?

In April, the Chinese government tried to pass a bill through the head of Hong Kong. The bill would allow extradition of "criminals" in Hong Kong to "mainland China" (the rest of China not including Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. Yes, Hong Kong and Macau are physically part of the mainland. They sit near each other on the Pacific Coast). In Hong Kong, the courts are staffed by Hong Kongers, who may have respect for law and order stemming from their colonial history, as all Hong Kongers are considered to have a more "Western" concept of human and civil rights. In mainland China, however, courts are controlled by the government directly, like all things, including the press. It is common for "criminals" in China to be executed or disappeared, or sentenced to lengthy jail terms, for crimes such as speaking against the government, associating with people who speak against the government, etc.)

Hong Kongers realizing that this bill would allow citizens who opposed the government to be processed not through the more fair courts of Hong Kong, but sent to the mainland to be processed as China would prefer, were alarmed.

There was already heightened emotion three people had recently killed themselves leaving behind messages protesting the extradition law.

April 28, public protests began with a march including tens of thousands of people. It was one of the biggest public demonstrations since the Umbrella Movement in 2014.

June 9, over a million people were in the streets (possibly the biggest in Hong Kong history). Many symbolically wore black and carried white flowers of mourning for those who died. The mass of people halted traffic outside the government headquarters.

Many protesters cited hopelessness and desperation as motives. One young man said, "Everything that has happened is the result of the government ignoring us. They asked for it." Another: "If we don't come out, Hong Kong will collapse."

Among the ongoing demands of the protesters: withdrawal of the bill, free activists already arrested after previous demonstrations, investigate and hold police accountable for use of violence against crowds. Some also demanded the resignation of the Hong Kong leader.

Police made 19 arrests following the June 9 protest, and estimated the turnout at 240,000.

June 12 huge crowds rallied and blocked major roads and attempted to storm parliament, and the second reading of the extradition bill was delayed.

During the June 12 protest, police used teargas, rubber bullets and truncheons against largely peaceful crowds, injuring almost 80 people, which use was to become a serious grievance cited by protesters later.

June 15, after a week of protests and worldwide media coverage, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announced the bill would be suspended (put on hold) and apologized for the crisis. It was considered to be perhaps the most serious instance of the Hong Kong government backing down since 2003 when it dropped a security law in the face of public opposition.

Starting at noon Sunday, June 16, a large protest began that involved and mingled all types of people, from veteran protesters to the city's youth who never knew colonial Hong Kong. They sang protest songs and chanted in a public movement that lasted for hours, remaining peaceful throughout. Police estimated 340,000, while organizers said 2 million.

"Before this week I had never been on a protest," said one 28-year-old, "but I am a teacher, and I realized that if I didn't come I wouldn't be able to face my students. This is their future."

Older protesters said that although they feared Hong Kong faced the most serious crisis of their lifetime, they found hope in the number of young protesters.

"I'm very encouraged by the younger people. If it was just us [older people] the city would be finished," said a 75-year-old. "I was a refugee. I escaped China when there was a famine, and I saw people being shot there. The Communist party isn't to be trusted."

Older Hong Kongers, though, are generally thought to be more in favor of Beijing (the Chinese government) than the youth, and are thought to see protests more in terms of "disruptions."

"Suspending the law but not cancelling it is like holding a knife to someone's head and saying, 'I'm not going to kill you now,' but you could do it any time. We're fighting for our freedom," said an 18-year-old protester.

One protester died while trying to hang up a banner on a building in the town centre, and was later described at least by some as the movement's "first martyr."

Monday, July 1 (the day of the anniversary of the return of Hong Kong to Chinese possession), amid a protest of thousands of people, four protesters barged into the the legislative council (LegCo), and occupied it and vandalized it. They insisted on waiting to be arrested by police. These four were later termed "the death fighters."

According to one of them, a young father, "Our action might not be useful but it is symbolic. We know we might get eight or 10 years for doing this, but i grew up here, I love the freedoms and the dignified life and I don't want to lose them."

Hundreds of other protesters, barged in in the evening, too, and vandalized it. Some were concerned about the four inside, and shouted, "Let's leave together!" They grabbed the four and frogmarched them out of the building.

Some protesters graffitied the walls of the legislative building with political slogans and spraypainted over the faces of the LegCo presidents photos. One said, "People will rise up when the authorities push them to the brink." A British colonial-era flag was put up, as was a banner that read, "There are no rioters, only violent regimes." One young man explained that the spraypainting was meant as an insult to the government and the legislative system.

One young woman stated, "If they don't go, we don't go. We're all afraid, but we are more afraid that we won't see those four again."

Later in the evening, police fired tear gas in and baton-charged the protesters and retook control of the building.

After the protest, police immediately began to collect evidence against protesters. There were many vehicles stopped to check passengers identities.

Protesters, however, continue the demand that the government fully withdraw the bill, not just suspend it. They also want the government to release all those arrested in previous protests.

In response to the incident in the legislative building, pro-Beijing (pro-"China") spokespeople criticized the use of vandalism on the part of protesters: "What we saw last night was shocking violence, unprecedented violence and damage to the Legislative Council. No slogan, no demand can justify such violence," said one chair of the pro-Beijing New People's Party. "Totally unacceptable for a civilized society like Hong Kong."

One activist responded by saying, "The protesters who broke into the Legislative Council complex were not rioters. They were not violent. They wanted to make the regime hear Hong Kongers' voice, and they had no other option.

"Perhaps all of you will not agree with every single action they took yesterday. But what are a few pieces of glass worth in comparison to the deaths of three young men and women? What are a few portraits worth in comparison to the very survival of Hong Kong as a place?"

After months of protests following the extradition bill, some have said there is a wave of "rebellion" in the air as people who have seen the success and popularity of the million-plus protest and tons of other protests are becoming more vocal about a range of grievances. Lots of protests for various causes are being published as lists on social media. Not so much on Facebook, though, unlike the Facebook-based Umbrella Revolution in 2014. In 2019, they are using Snapchat and Instagram. Also Telegram, the most common messaging app, which is known to be encrypted.

"Facebook is not a useful tool for the movement except for those celebrities and parties, on which they make announcements and deliver statements," said a former general secretary of the Hong Kong student federation.

The LIHKG forum has also replaced the HKGolden one used in 2014, which was criticized after the site managers were forced to hand over the IP address of a 23-year-old to the authorities.

In the streets while protesting, Apple Airdrop is popular for sending digital pamphlets which can be shared even when offline. This and similar apps are being used because they don't allow authorities to curtail access.

"I think it is very important people can be anonymous on LIHKG and can really say what they really think, don't care about rivalries and leave the judgment to other people," said the former HK student federation general secretary.

One difference between these platforms and Facebook is that Facebook's algorhythm favors posts that have a lot of debate, which may not help when people want to share posts about planning and taking action. Some think Facebook's algo amplifies disagreement.

“The anti-extradition protests have heightened our awareness over community issues. Instead of waiting for the government to do something, we may as well take it into our own hands,” said a 20-year-old man.

One issue is "reclamation." In the past two decades, local Hong Konger-owned shops have become very few, while Chinese shops have become very common. Hong Kongers see this as an erosion of Hong Kong's way of life caused by mainland Chinese. Hong Kongers are also focused on a border-town called Sheung Shui which they say has become full of garbage and shops selling to Chinese tourists as well as "parallel-traders," people who buy Hong Kong goods and resell them in China.

Another issue is full suffrage. Hong Kong's government is half picked by Beijing. People feel the Chinese government can thereby do whatever it wants.

Christian groups are playing a big role in the protests. Part of this is they are advocating peace. Another is that some fear a crackdown on religion by China.

People are already talking about how the eventual success or failure of the popular movement in quashing the extradition bill and other demands will depend on whether the momentum will keep going among the population.


The protests continue, and have become one of the main news stories of the times. In other words, the world is watching, is interested, and cares. The protesters recently occupied Hong Kong airport, disrupting a lot of air traffic. Videos have been posted of big military trucks with cages on them moving into Hong Kong in convoy, being parked in a big sports stadium.

A parallel story is "the voice of Mainland Chinese" who want to be heard. They are portrayed as strongly against the Hong Kongers, and the reports cite fairly strong and offensive language used to describe the Hong Kongers and their actions.

Another story is that Chinese state news (ie all Chinese news, since they own the news companies and control and censor what they publish, which is news to some people I guess) has been "caught" publishing things purposefully against the Hong Kong protesters and paying for advertisements to this purpose on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Also, "uncovered" are large groups of social media (mostly Twitter, I think) accounts used to try to manipulate public opinion on the stories shared on the subject. (in case you're reading this in the future and wondering if this is really "news," its not in terms of "a new development," but its being reported as as if it were real news because I suppose it is news to a lot of people and people right now care about the story.

AT THE SAME TIME, China is facing difficult developments as the US is continuing its "trade war" against China and specifically Huawei, which the US is calling a "national security threat." ALSO, China's claims and building projects in the South China Sea (for which its territorial claims are groundless in terms of historical evidence) are being challenged, by military displays by the US, (I think) Australia, Phillipines, and Japan. Japan, which hasn't been allowed to have a real army since World War II as part of its surrender contract, is now going to be able to have one and use it "to help allies who are in trouble." Japan has been participating in wars though, just not in a full capacity. Japanese were featured highly in the conquests of ISIS when their nationals were beheaded along with American nationals. I don't remember where they've been active at the moment, though, actually. Since China first announced they were claiming those islands and waters in the South China Sea (I think in 2013 or 2014), the US and others have been running military missions and flights through there just as they always have, despite China's warnings not to invade "their territory." Also, I think I read that their economy is facing a landmark downturn for the first time in a couple decades or something.


  1. Why Hong Kong protesters protest, as opposed to other nations that are not motivated to protest, such as our own? Is it the level of offence by the Communist rule? Some source of will within their conception of their lives, place, or society? Are they less comfortable/lazy/unmotivated than we are?

  2. What causes the Hong Kong leader to submit?

  3. What is the levee point where sufficient action (and type of action) has taken place and the government will now yield?

  4. What will China's response be? and what tactics will it decide on to crush Hong Kong?

Rhetoric of History

Image "The Rhetoric of History" from Doing History, by J. H. Hexter

Mays employs the rhetoric of action, the most common and universal method of demonstrating that one knows... but by the unique and unreplicable perfection of his response. [could be added to ERASABILITY]

not a ture narrative explanation determined by the logic of casual ascription but the historical story truest to the past... providing increments of knowledge and truth about the past.

Figure: The positions of the New York Giants in relation to the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1951 pennant race. (Above)

Figure 2: The positions of the New York Yankees and the second-place American League team in the 1939 baseball season.


On the basis of true narrative explanation determined by the logic of causal connections, it proved impossible to determine where to begin the historical story of the 1951 pennant race or what dimensions to give to any of its parts. Indeed, since causal connection is subject both to infinite regress and to infinite ramification, and since that historical story and ay other must have a beginning and finite dimensions of its parts, it is in principle impossible on the basis of the logic of narrative explanation alone to tell a historical story at all. On the other hand, the rhetoric of historical storytelling provided us with the means of recognizing whether there was a historical story to tell where the story should start, and roughly what the relative dimensions of its parts should be.

The historical storyteller's time is not clock-and-calendar time; it is historical tempo.

Correct determination of historical tempo and the appropriate correlative expansions and contractions of scale in a historical story depend on the examination IN RETROSPECT of the historical record. That is to say, when the historian tells a historical story, he must not only know something of the outcomes of the events that concern him; he must use what he knows in telling the story.

they do not know the writer's construal of the outcome, since not knowing it whets their curiosity and intensifies their engagement and vicarious participation in the story, thus augmenting their knowledge of the past.

On August 11, at the point of maximum distance between Brooklyn and New York, no one forsaw or could have forseen that New York was on the point of beginning a sixteen-game winning streak that transformed the baseball season into a pennant race...

historical analysis

the sciences have no rhetoric

Bobby Thomson's home run, the defeat of the Armada, the battle of Stalingrad, the Normandy landings.

what they want is confrontation with the riches of the event itself, a sense of vicarious participation in a great happening, the satisfaction of understanding what those great moments were like... [The Western Tradition, both what everyone partakes in and to do with those who write it and impart it to others]

The normally cool Russ Hodges, who went berserk and screamed, "THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT!"

To tell the truth about the past, the historian must marshal resources of rhetoric utterly alien to the rhetoric of the sciences in order to render his account forceful, vivid, and lively; to impart to it the emotional and intellectual impact that will render it maximally accessible and maximally intelligible to those who read it.

Sacred Values, Decision Making, Changing Minds


Neuroimaging 'will to fight' for sacred values: an empirical case study with supporters of an AQ associate (2018); Nafees Hamid et al. Research spokesperson: Scott Atran, an adjunct research professor at the University of Michigan’s Ford School and Institute for Social Research

Sacred values are preferences, beliefs and practices that communities deem protected from material trade-offs

self-reporting of support for violence appears insensitive to material costs and benefits, and asking people to trade sacred values for material benefits provokes moral outrage.

This feature of intergroup conflict, where people fight on when odds of victory are low, suggests choices made independently of calculated risks and likely outcomes. If so, then a primary focus on undestanding, preventing or deterring such behaviors through utilitarian cost-imposition strategies may be insufficient.

Although behavioral work suggests willingness to fight and die for sacred values is relatively insensitive to cost-benefit reasoning, it may be possible to modulate it using methods that do not entail material incentives or threats.

Research on radicalization distinguishes between deradicalization and disengagement, suggesting that former violent extremists rarely change their beliefs (deradicalize) but more often lose their motivation to defent them (disengage). [32. Deradicalization or Disengagement? A process in need of clarity ...; J. Horgan (Perspect. Terror. 2. 3-8)] Accordingly, we conjectured that it might be possible to induce flexibility in the way people defend their sacred values.

different decision pathways

distinguish radicalized from non-radicalized individuals (an important, but different, research topic).

Willingness to fight and die ratings were substantially higher for sacred values (mean 6.61 out of 7 points) than for non-sacred values (mean 3.8). Willingness to fight and die ratings were also conveyed faster in trials comprising sacred values (4.72 vs 5.49)... Value sacredness was stable after six months.

the sacred value condition... involved less activation in neural areas previously associated with cognitive control and utilitarian reasoning.

For both sacred and non-sacred values there was a significant change in willingness to fight and die ratings in the direction established by peers after participants received conflicting (peers-lower) community feedback, with no statistical interaction with value sacredness. In addition, the sacred values condition evoked higher degrees of both moral outrage (built as an average of anger, contempt, an disgust scores) and joy at peers' willingness to fight and die ratings compared with the non-sacred value condition. Post manipulation moral outrage ratings were substantially higher... when values were sacred...

This observation is consistent with the role of the insula in social aversion, including reactions of disgust and indignation.

Nevertheless, the moderating effect of social influence on willingness to fight and die was independent of moral outrage, suggesting that social influence may affect committment to willingness to fight and die in an implicit way.

Overall, these observations are consistent with the idea that choices involving sacred values are less dependent on cost-benefit calculations than choices involving non-sacred values, and the view of sacred values as moral imperatives guiding goal-oriented actions.

deep-seated political conflicts, such as the Israeli-Palestinian conclict, the Iranian nuclear programme, the Muslim-Hindu conlict...

Figuring out the neural mechanisms that sustain sacred value processing will be key to: (i) validating behavioural modulation effects on value committment by factors that differentially affect sacred and non-sacred values, and (ii) comaring neural substrates of sacred value processing in different samples with diverse cultural backgrounds in order to define cross-cultural commonalities in sacred value processing.

The question remains why there were no brain regions associated with affective processing, such as the amygdala, which activated during the sacred compared with the non-sacred value condition. We believe that the most likely explanation for this owes to our experimental paradigm not being sensitive enough to detect the differential neural activity associated with affective regions.

decisions regarding sacred values may rely on deontic rights and wrongs, whereas decisions over non-sacred values may rely on cost-benefit ponderation.

a heuristic making decisions easy to solve, or cached-offline, whereas decisions regarding non-sacred values would involve some degree of calculation.

community feedback shifted willingness to fight and die ratings in the direction established by peers

Our findings suggest that even when social network interventions are unlikely to reduce commitment to a sacred value, they could reduce adherence to violent options.


then material incentives (economic carrots) or disincentives (sanctions as sticks) only back re.

We found that the brain used di erent networks when considering di erent causes. There were areas we saw that were inhibited, silent, for sacred causes. These were the areas we call deliberative. These are involved in assessing the pros and cons. With sacred causes when people are deciding how much they should ght and die, they are deciding much faster. It’s not a rational decision, but a rapid duty-bound response regardless of real costs or likely consequences. They are doing what they believe.

Arguments and attempts at persuasion that rely on rational and seemingly reasonable attempts to pull people away also will have limited impact because the part of their brain associated with deliberative reasoning has deactivated. Moreover, such strategies do not reach out to the individual.

We also have to nd out when and why people lock in to sacred values, and how those values might be de-sacralized.

Another implication is that the people best poised to get others to abandon violence without abandoning values are those who hold the same values. This con rmed what I had previously observed in Sulawesi, when Sala preachers were able to dissuade a suicide attack group from killing others and dying themselves.