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October 4, 2011
An American writer hasn't won the Nobel Prize for Literature since 1993 (Toni Morrison). Slate's Alexander Nazaryan tells us why
: "The rising generation of writers behind Oates, Roth and DeLillo are dominated by Great Male Narcissists — even the writers who aren’t male (or white)."
posted by bardic at 10:29 PM PST - 122 comments
There's a new crop of Australian bands that take inspiration from old blues, but twist the music in a strange fashion. The trend may have started with CW Stoneking (Jungle Blues
, Love Me Or Die
), who channeled the old bluesmen despite being a young man.
Its continued on to Sydney's Snowdroppers
, who started out as a house band for burlesque shows
and kept that dirty sensibility up with songs like Rosemary
, Do The Stomp
, and their signature tune Good Drugs, Bad Women
(lyrics NSW). Frequent Snowdroppers touring partners Gay Paris
add a Southern horror twist (House Fire In the Origami District, My First Wife? She Was A Foxqueen!
) and an antic stage energy. Some of the bands relay on gimmicks, like Adelaide's The Beards
, who sing about how you should consider having sex with a bearded man
and point out that if your dad doesn't have a beard, you've got two moms.
The Beards recently performed at the World Beard and Mustache Championships.
Horror-country-rockers Graveyard Train
have picked up the torch dropped when Sydney psychobilly masters Zombie Ghost Train
disbanded. Graveyard Train tunes like Mummy
, Ballad for Beelzebub
, Tall Shadow
and Dead Folk Dance
combine cheerful Misfits horror theming with stompy country. Most of the singers from this loose scene are joining forces in Sydney this week to pay tribute to Tom Waits.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:25 PM PST - 32 comments
The Best of #OccupySesameStreet.
Since its launched two weeks ago, the #OccupyWallStreet movement has gone national, spawning copy-cat demonstrations in far-flung locales like Tulsa and Boise. Its members have serious concerns--about income inequality, the influence of large corporations in our political system, and their own financial futures. The #OccupySesameStreet movement? Not so much.
posted by sweetkid at 6:34 PM PST - 30 comments
"I remember back in the '90s, when I first heard about their discovery of cell receptors activated by pathogenic microorganisms. I was in this bar called Alumni Club on Clark Street in Chicago. It's gone now, which is fine because it was terrible. Doesn't matter, I guess, but me and my buddies had just polished off a mound of wings and, like, seven buckets of Corona when this dude comes in blabbing about the critical role dendritic cells play in adaptive immunity. I almost kicked the hell out of him on the spot, but I have to admit the slides he brought made me a believer." Dennis O'Toole uses the Nobel Prize to satirize sports commentary in hilarious fashion
posted by jbickers at 3:33 PM PST - 9 comments
In 1987 Apple predicted a complex language voice assistant
built into something called the Apple Knowledge Navigator, a tablet computer. With today's announcement of the refined (and integrated) version of Siri
, it appears they were less than a month off.
posted by mrzarquon at 1:17 PM PST - 408 comments
Most people know that Venice has long been threatened by chronic flooding, but in recent years the Queen of the Adriatic has faced a rising tide of a different sort: advertising
From the Doge's Palace
to St. Mark's Square
to the bittersweet Bridge of Sighs
-- named for the grief its splendid views once inspired in crossing death row prisoners -- immense billboards lit late into the night
now mar the city's most treasured places.
Allegedly built to cover the cost of restoration work in the face of government cutbacks, the ads have brought in around $600,000 per year since 2008 -- a fraction of the shortfall -- and show no sign of going away any time soon. Their presence prompted a consortium of the world's leading cultural experts led by the Venice in Peril Fund
to air an open letter
demanding the city government put a stop to the placards that "hit you in the eye and ruin your experience of one of the most beautiful creations of humankind." Mayor Giorgio Orsoni, for one, was not moved, saying last year "If people want to see the building they should go home and look at a picture of it in a book."
posted by Rhaomi at 10:39 AM PST - 60 comments
"As the sun rose on that fateful day, thousands of blackshirts gathered in the cool morning air, trading jokes and cigarettes. Their boots and belts were well-polished. Those with peaked caps wore them at no angle but the true. The Union’s flags hung limply on their poles, waiting to be unfurled and waved in the faces of the fearful public. Hundreds of policemen – also, in a technical sense, in black shirts, boots and belts – formed up alongside the Fascist column, determined to escort them on an errand that none thought wise or good but which no one had said was illegal.
The signal was given. The march began. It was October 4th, 1936"
It has been 75 years since the battle of Cable Street, when "people in the East End of London stopped Oswald Mosley and his British Union of Fascists marching through Cable Street, in Stepney, then a mainly Jewish area. A slogan from the Spanish Civil War, a popular anti-fascist cause of the time, was widely used:
They Shall Not Pass - No Pasaran!" [more inside]
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:49 AM PST - 44 comments
The official SI
definition of a kilogram is "equal to the mass of the international prototype," a cylinder of nine-tenths platinum and one-tenth iridium, forged in the 1880s. "Le Grand K," as the prototype is affectionately known, is the basis not only for the measurement of mass and volume, but of force
, and luminosity
—and since the 1940s, Le Grand K has been losing weight. Now scientists are trying to redefine the kilogram in terms of fundamental constants
—and in doing so, perhaps fulfill the 18th-century promise of a universal, fundamental system of measurement "for all people, for all time."
posted by Zozo at 8:12 AM PST - 58 comments
Cioran's literary elitism is unparalleled in modern literature, and for that reason he often appears as a nuisance for modern and sentimental ears poised for the lullaby words of eternal earthly or spiritual bliss. Cioran's hatred of the present and the future, his disrespect for life, will certainly continue to antagonize the apostles of modernity who never tire of chanting vague promises about the "better here-and-now." ... If one could reduce the portrayal of Cioran to one short paragraph, then one must depict him as an author who sees in the modern veneration of the intellect a blueprint for spiritual gulags and the uglification of the world. Indeed, for Cioran, man's task is to wash himself in the school of existential futility, for futility is not hopelessness; futility is a reward for those wishing to rid themselves of the epidemic of life and the virus of hope. Probably, this picture best befits the man who describes himself as a fanatic without any convictions--a stranded accident in the cosmos who casts nostalgic looks towards his quick disappearance.
- Tomislav Sunic [more inside]
posted by Trurl at 6:28 AM PST - 31 comments
Brianna Amat, 18, of Pinckney High School in Ann Arbor, kicked the game-winning field goal against rival Grand Blanc on the same night that she was crowned homecoming queen
posted by dabug at 4:22 AM PST - 66 comments
Over the past few centuries, Western cultures have been very good at creating general prosperity for themselves. Historian Niall Ferguson asks: Why the West, and less so the rest? He suggests half a dozen big ideas from Western culture -- call them the 6 killer apps
-- that promote wealth, stability and innovation. And in this new century, he says, these apps are all shareable. [more inside]
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:19 AM PST - 97 comments