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NPR's Planet Money explains the history of the sales tax in the United States by tracing what kinds of sandwiches get taxed and why: How the Burrito Became a Sandwich. Bonus: In-N-Out Burger history in the podcast.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Jul 22 at 10:19 PM - 151 comments

"...it's social media that has helped build the public case against Russia" in Ukraine. One example is liveuamap.com, who "gather information from open sources and put it on the [Google] map" using familiar Google Maps markers for a Reds (Pro-Russian) vs Blues (Pro-Ukraine) theater map. Shaded regions indicate the Donetsk People's Republic (DNR; Red), Lugansk People's Republic (LNR; Purple), the MH17 crash site (Yellow), and the MH17 ceasefire zone (green). The posts linked to by each marker include a link to the source via a chain icon at the bottom of the post.
posted by jwells on Jul 23 at 12:55 PM - 5 comments

Which sport are you physically most suited for? Find out with some help from the BBC!
posted by phunniemee on Jul 23 at 1:56 PM - 98 comments

Why Silicon Valley Needs The Coder Grrrls Of Double Union, The Feminist Hacker Space
The lack of women in the tech world isn't just a pipeline problem--it's one of rampant sexism. Enter the haven of Double Union.
[more inside]
posted by Lexica on Jul 23 at 4:44 PM - 1 comments

And the bartender's, like, "No kidding. You think I wished for a twelve-inch pianist?" So the guy processes this. (SLNewYorker) [more inside]
posted by Metroid Baby on Jul 23 at 1:51 PM - 69 comments

Galaxy Quest: The Oral History
posted by Nimmie Amee on Jul 23 at 12:54 PM - 63 comments

inside Sun Noodle, the secret weapon of america's best ramen shops29 ramen shops serving sun noodles across the US

but, have we taken ramen too far? [more inside]
posted by yeoz on Jul 23 at 2:32 PM - 38 comments

All of The Baffler's back issues are available online, for free. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jul 23 at 11:30 AM - 18 comments

It's hardly breaking news, but more and more people are questioning the race to the Ivy League that in some cases begins as early as preschool. And in addition to perpetuating the increasingly-rigid class structure in the US, the Ivy League colleges are inadvertently creating and admitting students who have no idea how to really take advantage of the resources available to them. So writes William Deresiewicz in his article, "Don't Send Your Kid to the Ivy League" from the New Republic:
So extreme are the admission standards now that kids who manage to get into elite colleges have, by definition, never experienced anything but success. The prospect of not being successful terrifies them, disorients them. The cost of falling short, even temporarily, becomes not merely practical, but existential. The result is a violent aversion to risk. You have no margin for error, so you avoid the possibility that you will ever make an error. Once, a student at Pomona told me that she’d love to have a chance to think about the things she’s studying, only she doesn’t have the time. I asked her if she had ever considered not trying to get an A in every class. She looked at me as if I had made an indecent suggestion.
See also Deresiewicz's earlier article, "The Disadvantages of an Elite Education" from American Scholar, previously discussed on the blue.
posted by math on Jul 23 at 12:34 PM - 96 comments

Rethink Homelessness asked a bunch of homeless people from Orlando to write down something about themselves that people who walk by them wouldn't otherwise know.
posted by gman on Jul 23 at 3:41 PM - 13 comments

Look: it’s not that I’m a dick when it comes to this stuff. It’s that I like to think that I have standards based on exposure to the interdependent duo of lit and life. But if I decide not to wuss out and instead uphold my particular notion of standards, I’m a dick, and being a dick could lead to dickish reviews of my own stuff from Shane Jones, his friends, and friends of the publisher. George Saunders told us all to “err in the direction of kindness.” But is this essay/review I’m writing unkind? Is it selfish? Is it generous? Is a kindness policy maybe too simple?
Lee Klein worries about small-press book reviewing in an ambivalent, lukewarm take on Shane Jones's new novel Crystal Eaters (excerpt) that others have, all the same, called cowardly and dickish.
posted by RogerB on Jul 23 at 9:49 AM - 32 comments

What do you get when you subtract all the extraneous banter from an episode of "Family Feud"? About three minutes of actual game show. (SLYT).
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI on Jul 22 at 11:39 AM - 68 comments

Pitchfork: "A few weeks ago, 4AD confirmed that musician Scott Walker and drone metal outfit Sunn O))) would release a collaborative album. Today, the two parties have announced that album. It's called Soused, and it's due out September 22 in Europe and 23 in North America." [more inside]
posted by porn in the woods on Jul 17 at 7:13 PM - 28 comments

Michael Kors has been causing a bit of a sensation in the fashion world recently, as the popularity of the designer's handbags, and in particular, one handbag—called "the Selma"—threatens to dethrone Coach as the luxury brand to buy (some say it already has). The Guardian notes that in the Kors line of handbags, "The details are right: the gold studs on the base, a practical touch so that you can rest the bag on the floor; a printed silk lining; a phone pocket. But the most important detail is very, very simple: the magic £300 price tag." Obsessions and the internet go hand in hand, so here are some of the best reviews of Selma handbags from bloggers who want to share their knowledge with other handbag enthusiasts. [more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Jul 21 at 10:17 PM - 438 comments

The History of Autocorrect
...some of the calls were quite tricky, and one of the trickiest involved the issue of obscenity. On one hand, Word didn't want to seem priggish; on the other, it couldn't very well go around recommending the correct spelling of mothrefukcer. Microsoft was sensitive to these issues. The solution lay in expanding one of spell-check's most special lists, bearing the understated title: “Words which should neither be flagged nor suggested.”
posted by frimble on Jul 23 at 6:40 AM - 71 comments

A robot with a broken leg learns to walk again.
posted by tocts on Jul 23 at 8:28 AM - 15 comments

Throwing a theme party? Need some background music whilst checking out your ex's facebook pics? Do you pine for times gone by? Step into the Nostalgia Machine!
posted by stinkfoot on Jul 23 at 8:35 AM - 101 comments

Why the modern bathroom is a wasteful, unhealthy design (The Guardian):
"Piped water may be the greatest convenience ever known but our sewage systems and bathrooms are a disaster" [more inside]
posted by flex on Jul 22 at 11:52 AM - 162 comments

Ellen Rumel plays in the band The Nunnery and takes 35mm photographs of the underground music scene in Boise, Idaho.

Alexander Miranda plays in the band Underpass and takes 35mm photographs of the DIY punk scene in Vancouver, British Columbia.
posted by Juliet Banana on Jul 22 at 9:45 AM - 21 comments

"I was a nervous wreck because I was about to betray my beloved grandmother and visit her darkest secret. Her secret had a name, and I was going to see him." (SLNYTimes: Modern Love)
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Jul 23 at 12:35 PM - 9 comments

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