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Anyone can see the road that they walk on is paved in gold

The 1998 hit "The Way" by Fastball was based on the real-life disappearance of an elderly couple in Texas: The song’s lyrics -- about an elderly couple who disappears from their home, finding immortality on the road -- seem sweet. That is, until "shadows" on the highway are referenced. The promises that the unnamed couple will never go home, grow old, or be hungry again seem a great deal less reassuring. Perhaps, the listener thinks, the "immortality" they found on the open road is purely allegorical.
posted by Cash4Lead on Apr 24, 2014 - 33 comments

How Hip-Hop Failed Black America

The Root's ?uestlove on the invisibilizing of Black culture... "...you can point to this as proof of hip-hop’s success. The concept travels. But where has it traveled? The danger is that it has drifted into oblivion. The music originally evolved to paint portraits of real people and handle real problems at close range — social contract, anyone? — but these days, hip-hop mainly rearranges symbolic freight on the black starliner. Containers on the container ship are taken from here to there — and never mind the fact that they may be empty containers. Keep on pushin’ and all that, but what are you pushing against?" [more inside]
posted by artof.mulata on Apr 23, 2014 - 32 comments

Mali's Ancient Manuscripts

Bonfire of the Humanities. "Nobody goes to Timbuktu, right? Patrick Symmes did, to discover what happened when jihadi rebels set out to burn one of the world’s finest collections of ancient manuscripts. Bouncing around by truck, boat, and boots, he got an intimate look at West ­Africa’s most mythic locale." [Via] [more inside]
posted by homunculus on Apr 21, 2014 - 12 comments

The Broadway community has always been at the forefront of this issue

If you go to see a Broadway or off-Broadway show this June, the masthead of your Playbill will look a little different; for the first time in its 130 year history, the program, along with their digital properties and social media sites will turn rainbow during the last week of June to commemorate Pride weeks in New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, and other major cities around the world.
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Apr 19, 2014 - 4 comments

What's New?

What's New With NCSA Mosaic?
posted by Pope Guilty on Apr 19, 2014 - 33 comments

Rose Rose I Love You

In 1952 Malaya, cabaret dancer Rose Chan's bra snapped on stage. Noticing the enthusiastic response from the audience, she decided to capitalise on this, and transformed herself into Malaysia's first (and so far only) Queen of Striptease. (Many of these links have NSFW pictures) [more inside]
posted by divabat on Apr 18, 2014 - 13 comments

The Hundredth Anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre

Alan Prendergast writing in Westword reflects on the history of "Bloody Ludlow."
posted by audi alteram partem on Apr 18, 2014 - 25 comments

Bottles and ballast stones!

NOAA's Okeanos Explorer (previously 1, 2) is currently exploring the Gulf of Mexico. Today, they're exploring a 19th century shipwreck! Watch the discoveries on three live streams.
posted by mudpuppie on Apr 17, 2014 - 17 comments

SLYT * 85000

British Pathe releases 85K videos to YouTube. An archive of film from the late 1800s onward is now available on YouTube.
posted by bitmage on Apr 16, 2014 - 22 comments

Une agreable surprise!

Victorian Prudes and their Bizarre Beachside Bathing Machines. If you were a beachgoer in Georgian or Victorian times, more specifically, a female beachgoer, your day at the seaside would’ve likely had all the fun sucked out of it by a little invention known as the bathing machine.
posted by Bunny Ultramod on Apr 16, 2014 - 46 comments

The better robots of our nature

War! What was it good for? Quite a lot, argues historian and archaeologist Ian Morris. Over thousands of years humans used war to build our societies, then turned it against itself. With luck our newly acquired habits and forthcoming robots will keep the world from returning to older levels of bloodshed.
posted by doctornemo on Apr 14, 2014 - 23 comments

Pansy Club

Deviates, Inc is a tumblr devoted to exploring the visual culture of LGBT history ranging from Gilded Age drag queens, classic Hollywood lesbians, to militant gay activism.
posted by The Whelk on Apr 13, 2014 - 7 comments

If I get killed, please don't bury my soul.

The Ballad of Geeshie and Elvie. No grave site, no photograph. Forget that — no anecdotes. This is what set Geeshie and Elvie apart even from the rest of an innermost group of phantom geniuses of the ’20s and ’30s. Their myth was they didn’t have anything you could so much as hang a myth on.
posted by oinopaponton on Apr 12, 2014 - 42 comments

Massacres, Toponymy, Inertia, Easter

In the Spanish province of Burgos, Castile y León, about 200 kilometers north of Madrid, is a tiny little village named Castrillo Matajudíos (pop. 60). The village is considering changing its name. [more inside]
posted by skoosh on Apr 12, 2014 - 37 comments

101 Years Have Passed Since I Wrote My Note

101 year old message in a bottle found in the Baltic and that's all there is to it.
posted by mygothlaundry on Apr 9, 2014 - 30 comments

Eppur si muove

The Great Ptolemaic Smackdown is a nine-part series posted by sci-fi author and statistician Michael F. Flynn to his blog last year, covering the historical conflict between heliocentrism and geocentrism, with a special focus on Galileo. They are based on an article (pdf) by Flynn which originally appeared in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of Analog. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Apr 8, 2014 - 10 comments

Maybe I Don't Want To Be A Princess After All

Game of Thrones: Being A Princess Is A Rough Gig "...The privileges held by princesses came at an enormous price. They were used and valued as diplomatic chess pieces, often sent at a very young age to far away places, often to places where they didn't speak the language to live among people who might not care for them or may even be openly hostile.... Game of Thrones does an extraordinary job of showing what being caught in that particular trap must have looked like and felt like. Some flail, some are lucky, some are doomed, some do their best to turn it to their advantage, some become monsters. In this post, I'm going to take a look at the various Game of Thrones princesses in the context of some possible real life counterparts"
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard on Apr 7, 2014 - 200 comments

"therfore the holi fader, the pope, hath ratefied and confermed my book"

The Travels of Sir John Mandeville is a remarkable 14th Century book which tells the autobiographical story of Sir John Mandeville's travels from England to Jerusalem and beyond to Asia. The only problem is that the book "had been a household word in eleven languages and for five centuries before it was ascertained that Sir John never lived, that his travels never took place, and that his personal experiences, long the test of others' veracity, were compiled out of every possible authority, going back to Pliny, if not further." The book was very popular for many centuries and was illustrated many times. For more about the book there is the introduction to a recent scholarly Middle English version and an illuminating podcast interview [iTunes link] with Professor Anthony Bale, the translator of a new version of the "defective" version of the book, which was the best known version for centuries. The interview goes into the many errors and fantasias of Mandeville but also puts the work in the context of its time and place.
posted by Kattullus on Apr 5, 2014 - 18 comments

On Engastration

His recipe calls for a bustard stuffed with a turkey stuffed with a goose stuffed with a pheasant stuffed with a chicken stuffed with a duck stuffed with a guinea fowl stuffed with a teal stuffed with a woodcock stuffed with a partridge stuffed with a plover stuffed with a lapwing stuffed with a quail stuffed with a thrush stuffed with a lark stuffed with an ortolan bunting stuffed with a garden warbler stuffed with an olive stuffed with an anchovy stuffed with a single caper - The Roti Sans Pareil or Roast Without Equal.
posted by The Whelk on Apr 5, 2014 - 70 comments

Terrabyte Incognita

Africa Might Not Look Like You Think It Does
There is no such thing as an objective map. This was true of cave paintings, Roman tapestries, and colonialists' charts of Africa. It is also true of Google Maps.

posted by infini on Apr 2, 2014 - 58 comments

The NYPL's Open Maps Project adds 20,000 High Res Maps

The New York Public Library has released more than 20,000 high resolution cartographic works (maps!) for free, to view and download. "We believe these maps have no known US copyright restrictions." All can be viewed through the New York Public Library’s Digital Collections page and downloaded through their Map Warper. (Via) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Mar 31, 2014 - 11 comments

Paintings and Google Street View mashups

London to Amsterdam, Saint Petersburg and Tokyo to New York, well known historical paintings of city scenes around the world superimposed on to Google Street View by Halley Docherty (whose username is shystone on Reddit) | Google Street View Paintings by Raul Moyado Sandoval that he calls Metapanoramas | Also Paintings as Google Street View Maps via Lileks' wonderful Lint. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Mar 31, 2014 - 4 comments

Street life in the Great Wen

If you don't like Marcellus Laroon's pictures of London street life in the late 1600s, perhaps Thomas Rowlandson's "Characteristic Sketches of the Lower Orders" from 1820 are more to your liking. Moving up in society, take a look at what the fat cat bankers of 1824 wore, courtesy of Richard Dighton and contrast them with the costumes of the lower orders as depicted by T. L. Busby in the same year. All found at the Spitalfields Life blog, which has an uncanny knack for finding these extraordinary depictions of London street life in previous centuries.
posted by MartinWisse on Mar 30, 2014 - 11 comments

Pictures of Coltrane

Coltrane in "A love supreme" sessions. "Whenever photographer Chuck Stewart was hired by a record company to document a recording session, he would shoot during the rehearsal takes. Recently, his son David was browsing through his archives when he found six undeveloped rolls of film from December 1964, 50 years ago.. They portrayed saxophonist John Coltrane . . . with his quartet, making a work that would soon be hailed as a masterpiece and a landmark of 20th-century music: A Love Supreme." [more inside]
posted by goofyfoot on Mar 30, 2014 - 9 comments

"Avoid The Appearance Of Evil"

Thank Goodness We Don't Have To Do That Anymore: a selection of US social customs and rituals that have mercifully passed on. Spinster Etiquette! Paying Calls! Hand Kissing! Bathing Machines! Wedding Gift Displays!
posted by The Whelk on Mar 28, 2014 - 90 comments

"You shouldn't dream your film, you should make it!" ~ Spielberg

Filmmaker IQ offers an extensive variety of free online courses, articles and tutorial videos for aspiring filmmakers. Their image gallery is also fun to browse through. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Mar 27, 2014 - 8 comments

"No history is accurate, not even the very best we have."

In How History Can Be Used in Fiction historian Ada Palmer explores how two TV series about the Borgia family succeed or fail at conveying a period feel, where and why modern sensibilities influence the shows, and how the characterization of a protagonist whose age is historically uncertain can be affected by making him younger or older. It finally concludes with a discussion of why communication can be more important than accuracy and why some changes from historical fact strengthen fiction and others weaken it. [more inside]
posted by Wretch729 on Mar 25, 2014 - 61 comments

Charting climate change and local loss of flora from Thoreau's journals

From 1851 to 1858, Henry David Thoreau noted a number of natural occurrences in detail, including the first flowering dates for over 500 species of wildflowers in Concord. Additionally, Alfred Hosmer, a botanist in the same area, had recorded the flowering dates of over 600 species of wild plants in 1878 and from 1888 to 1902. With that data, Richard Primack, a biology professor at Boston University, and fellow researcher Abraham Miller-Rushing spent years aligning old plant names with current names to study the change flowering patterns from the recorded past to present. Their phenological study concluded that plants in Concord, on average, are now flowering 10 days earlier than they were in Thoreau's time (full article for the journal BioScience). [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Mar 25, 2014 - 3 comments

"How can I stay silent, how can I be still!"

Lessons From A Demigod
The Epic of Gilgamesh has been read in the modern world for a little longer than a century, and, in that time, this oldest of stories has become a classic college text. In my own courses on ancient literature and mythology, it is the book I always begin with. But why should a tale whose origins stretch back more than four thousand years draw such attention in an age of genetic engineering and text messaging? The answer I have given to hundreds of students is that almost every joy and sorrow they will face in life was revealed in Gilgamesh millennia before they were born. Reading Gilgamesh will not only teach them to face the challenges that lie ahead, but also give them an appreciation for the idea that no matter how much our modern world might seem different from earlier times, the essence of the human experience remains the same.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Mar 23, 2014 - 36 comments

The Vatican archives are being digitized.

The Vatican is digitizing its massive trove of ancient documents to make them available to the world for free online. [more inside]
posted by Jacob Knitig on Mar 23, 2014 - 28 comments

What really happened at the lake that night?

The Murders at The Lake. "In the summer of 1982 the city of Waco was confronted with the most vicious crime it had ever seen: three teenagers were savagely stabbed to death, for no apparent reason, at a park by a lake on the edge of town. Justice was eventually served when four men were found guilty of the crime, and two were sent to death row. In 1991, though, when one of the convicts got a new trial and was then found not guilty, some people wondered, Were these four actually the killers? Several years after that, one of the men was put to death, and the stakes were raised: Had Texas executed an innocent man?" [more inside]
posted by zarq on Mar 19, 2014 - 18 comments

"Stories about charming scoundrels have a built-in appeal"

[Paul] De Man may have been a scoundrel who found a career teaching a certain method of reading, but that method of reading does not turn people into scoundrels. Probably ninety-nine per cent of the people who studied with de Man wouldn’t run a red light—forget about altering a transcript or voluntarily collaborating with Nazis. If there is an ethical takeaway from what de Man taught, it would be self-doubt.
In The New Yorker Louis Menand attempts to find common ground between Paul De Man's methods of literary criticism and his sordid life in a long review of Evelyn Barish's The Double Life of Paul de Man. The biography has been criticized by Peter Brooks, De Man's former student, and was reviewed unfavorably by Susan Rubin Suleiman in The New York Times.
posted by Kattullus on Mar 18, 2014 - 21 comments

The Voluntarism Fantasy

Mike Konczal, for Democracy Journal: The Voluntarism Fantasy [more inside]
posted by tonycpsu on Mar 18, 2014 - 33 comments

Internet Archive Digital Residencies

Each week, the Internet Archive's tumblr account is completely transformed by a digital resident along a theme of their choosing. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Mar 18, 2014 - 3 comments

You bring the Ouija board, I'll bring the spirits...

The infamous, sprawling Winchester Mystery House has plans to allow overnight stays and full onsite alcohol consumption
posted by The Whelk on Mar 16, 2014 - 46 comments

"Ireland at this time had a largely cow-based economy"

"I’ve said this many times before and I’ll say it many times again, but one of the joys of webcomics is their ability to cover every possible subject and fill every conceivable niche. Say, for example, you’re into early Irish literature and you want to read it in comics form. Webcomics are happy to help you out. At this very moment, in fact, there are at least two ongoing webcomics based on the Táin Bó Cúailnge, or Cattle Raid of Cooley, the central epic of the Ulster cycle: Patrick Brown’s The Cattle Raid of Cooley and M.K. Reed’s About a Bull. Thank you, webcomics! You’ve justified the existence of the Internet yet again!" -- Shaenon Garrity reviews two niche webcomics.
posted by MartinWisse on Mar 16, 2014 - 17 comments

How close do you live to a nuclear power plant? And other maps.

See how close you live to a nuclear power plant on this interactive map featured in Smithsonian. It's created by ESRI, home to all kinds of other maps, like the Battle of the Big Boxes, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, the location of uninsured Americans, a Timeline of the UK's Tallest Buildings, and more. [more inside]
posted by MoonOrb on Mar 14, 2014 - 38 comments

It's unknown whether these homebrewers went for insanely hoppy IPAs too

"As an important part of daily nourishment, women had always produced beer at home and for their own household. However, in Holland from the beginning of the thirteenth century beer production for the general market commenced. In the developing cities more and more labour was divided among specialised craftsmen. Professional breweries were established and the beer industry became a serious trade." -- female brewers in Holland and England, a paper by Marjolien van Dekken looking at how the brewery industry changed in Early Modern Times from largely homebrewed and controlled by women to a more large scale and male dominated industry. [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on Mar 13, 2014 - 10 comments

"If you want to kill someone, do it with a car."

"In 2012, automobile collisions killed more than 34,000 Americans, but unlike our response to foreign wars, the AIDS crisis, or terrorist attacks—all of which inflict fewer fatalities than cars—there’s no widespread public protest or giant memorial to the dead. We fret about drugs and gun safety, but don’t teach children to treat cars as the loaded weapons they are."
posted by DoctorFedora on Mar 12, 2014 - 235 comments

The medieval version of the celebrity autobiography

"Margery Kempe was a self-proclaimed holy woman, visionary, mystic and medieval pilgrim. She is also unique because although she was not proficient at reading and writing, she was determined to record her visions, journeys and spiritual experiences. She dictated her book to a scribe of which only one copy survives, now housed in the British Library. Nearly everything we know about her comes from her book." -- Susan Abernethy writes about a woman we only know about because she wrote a tell-all autobiography.
posted by MartinWisse on Mar 11, 2014 - 18 comments

Kenau: heroine or harridan?

The fascinating thing about the sexist Dutch slur kenau -- aimed at women deemed too aggressive or bossy -- is that it originated as the given name of a heroine of the Eighty Years War, Kenau Simonsdochter Hasselaer who during the 1573 Siege of Haarlem led a monstrous regiment of women in defence of her home town against the Spanish oppressor. Last week a movie was released retelling her legend, which prompted the Haarlem Frans Hals Museum to create a short documentary about her, Kenau: heroine or harridan, looking at the historical truth of Kenau Hasselaer's life, which has been subtitled in English.
posted by MartinWisse on Mar 10, 2014 - 19 comments

Postal History Corner

Postal History Corner: Canadian Postal and Philatelic History is chock full of fascinating information and high quality images and has been doing so for four years. [more inside]
posted by Mizu on Mar 10, 2014 - 4 comments

Kickin' it Old School

Each week for a year, the folks in the special collections library at the University of St. Andrews are taking a how-to book from the collection and following its instructions for a project, in order to get a clearer sense of what life was like a century or two ago. Thus far in 52 Weeks of Historical How-Tos, they've learned how to make shoe polish like an 1825 footman, bake mince pie from 10 different recipes dating from 1710-1862, perform parlour tricks to amaze your friends, and take photographs via the wet collodion process.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Mar 9, 2014 - 10 comments

THE LIFE OF A PEOPLE IS PICTURED IN THEIR SPEECH.

This book deals with the Dialect of the English Language that is spoken in Ireland. As the Life of a people—according to our motto—is pictured in their speech, our picture ought to be a good one, for two languages were concerned in it—Irish and English. ... Here for the first time—in this little volume of mine—our Anglo-Irish Dialect is subjected to detailed analysis and systematic classification.
P.W. Joyce's 1910 work, "English as We Speak it in Ireland," is a fascinating chronicle of a language's life, and no mistake. [more inside]
posted by MonkeyToes on Mar 6, 2014 - 8 comments

Stone Towns of the Swahili Coast

The Swahili Coast and its culture in the medieval period (roughly the tenth to fifteenth centuries) is relatively little studied, compared with other cultures of its size and influence, though it represents a key node in the development of global trade before the European Age of Discovery. Its history is known in broad strokes, but less is known about how the medieval Swahili lived and how they incorporated influences—from religion to architecture—from across the Indian Ocean world. Fleisher and his codirector, Stephanie Wynne-Jones of the University of York, looked for a site that would allow them to examine such questions in detail. “We had an inkling Songo Mnara would be that site,” he says, “but it has completely exceeded our expectations. --
posted by MartinWisse on Mar 5, 2014 - 9 comments

The great Medieval water myth

"The idea that Medieval people drank beer or wine to avoid drinking bad water is so established that even some very serious scholars see no reason to document or defend it; they simply repeat it as a settled truth. In fact, if no one ever documents the idea, it is for a very simple reason: it's not true."
posted by jedicus on Feb 27, 2014 - 84 comments

The Brie People

It's 1976 and CBS reports on NYC's hot new pickup spot: the department store Bloomingdale's
posted by The Whelk on Feb 27, 2014 - 29 comments

Below West 38th Street

The lost cow tunnels of New York: truth or fiction?
posted by MartinWisse on Feb 25, 2014 - 26 comments

Lord Cobham was burnt alive, but I forget what for

15 year old Jane Austen wrote a satrical history of English monarchs and now you can read it.
posted by The Whelk on Feb 25, 2014 - 19 comments

The Nimitz Graybook: The WWII Operational Diary of Chester W. Nimitz

December 7--The war opened with the attack of Japanese aircraft on Oahu. So begins the Command Summary of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, now available online as part of the U.S. Naval War College's Naval Historical Collection, in eight pdf volumes. Downloading is currently a little slow, as demand for site access has been high.
posted by MoonOrb on Feb 24, 2014 - 7 comments

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