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Unmaking Things

Unmaking Things: A Design History Studio is a creative space for exploring innovative approaches to the study of design and objects. The site is founded, edited, and run by students on the Royal College of Art / Victoria and Albert Museum History of Design MA course and covers a diverse range of topics – from product design to critical theory; from the history of decorative arts to analysis of space. The student editors and site design change annually. New articles are posted every Monday and Thursday.
posted by jedicus on Jun 10, 2015 - 1 comment

40 acres and a mule

A Reparations Infographic
posted by aniola on Jun 9, 2015 - 42 comments

The God of this world is riches, pleasure and toys

Who's the fastest selling Playmobil figure of all time? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a dinosaur? [more inside]
posted by ThePinkSuperhero on Jun 9, 2015 - 29 comments

Ladies and gentlemen: the Vocoder

The Vocoder was invented at Bell Labs in 1939 to transmit voice data, rather than to make rock musicians sound like robots. It could also do much more interesting things to your voice.
posted by DoctorFedora on Jun 7, 2015 - 12 comments

The Bronze Age Gold Rush of the (British) Southwest

Trading Gold: Why Bronze Age Irish Used Imported Gold “The results of this study are a fascinating finding. They show that there was no universal value of gold, at least until perhaps the first gold coins started to appear nearly two thousand years later. Prehistoric economies were driven by factors more complex than the trade of commodities – belief systems clearly played a major role.” [more inside]
posted by Michele in California on Jun 6, 2015 - 4 comments

3Blue1Brown: Reminding the world that math makes sense

Understanding e to the pi i - "An intuitive explanation as to why e to the pi i equals -1 without a hint of calculus. This is not your usual Taylor series nonsense." (via via; reddit; previously) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jun 6, 2015 - 28 comments

“Where they fall, there is no one to take note of and report.”

First Wave at Omaha Beach On June 6, 1944, the Allies invaded occupied France. S. L. A. Marshall Nov. 1, 1960 [The Atlantic]
When he was promoted to officer rank at eighteen, S. L. A. Marshall was the youngest shavetail in the United States Army during World War I. He rejoined the Army in 1942, became a combat historian with the rank of colonel; and the notes he made at the time of the Normandy landing are the source of this heroic reminder. Readers will remember his frank and ennobling book about Korea, The River and the Gauntlet, which was the result of still a third tour of duty.
posted by Fizz on Jun 6, 2015 - 24 comments

Madness in (not and!) Civilization

Hallucination, or Divine Revelation? Emma Green of The Atlantic speaks to Andrew Scull, author of the recently-published Madness in Civilization. Scull on "Madness and Meaning" in the Paris Review. [more inside]
posted by mittens on Jun 5, 2015 - 2 comments

#maybe she's born with it #maybe it's bear blood

Historie of Beafts combs through Medieval bestiaries to bring you the finest in olde-tyme animal facts. [more inside]
posted by showbiz_liz on Jun 3, 2015 - 32 comments

To Live And Dine In L.A.

To Live and Dine in L.A. is a multi-platform project of The Library Foundation of Los Angeles based on the extraordinary menu collection of The Los Angeles Public Library.

The entire project, which includes a book, an exhibition, and a variety of city-wide public programs and media events, is dedicated to curating and mobilizing the Library’s collection of historic L.A. menus in order to explore both the food history of the city and the city’s contemporary struggles with food insecurity, food deserts, and youth hunger.

(You can also navigate the collection via the Archive page.)
posted by Room 641-A on Jun 3, 2015 - 4 comments

Good Grief!

"Thank you dear sister, greatest of all sisters, without whom I'd never survive."
The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show aired on Saturday mornings on the CBS network from 1983 - 1986. Only 18 episodes were ever produced. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jun 2, 2015 - 26 comments

Ballast

For the first time, "the wreckage of a slaving ship that went down with slaves aboard has been recovered." The recovery of artifacts from the 1794 shipwreck is a milestone for the African Slave Wrecks Project, a collaboration by six partner groups (including the National Museum of African-American Art and Culture and the National Parks Service) to find, document, and preserve archaeological remnants of the slave trade. Some of the objects will be included in exhibits in the NMAAHC.
posted by Miko on May 31, 2015 - 7 comments

"If I should feel that I’d like a few drags, it’s just gotta be alright"

The secret reefer tapes of Louis Armstrong
posted by flapjax at midnite on May 29, 2015 - 21 comments

Pinball pushers: crews of tinhorns, living in luxury on penny thievery

In the long history of pinball machines, a new golden age of pinball was started with the introduction of player-controlled electronic flippers, first seen in 1947 in D. Gottlieb & Co's Humpty Dumpty. Unfortunately, this was five years after the start of the War on Pinball, ushered in by New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and others who saw pinball machines simply as another form of coin-machine gambling (PDF) and source of moral decline. Following New York, pinball bans spread throughout the United States (PDF) and Canada, with fears escalating to the point that some in criminal law looked to alternative solutions to the Pinball Problem (PDF). Even though a bold "Babe Ruth" move by Roger Sharpe in New York City in May of 1976 overturned the local ban and other cities again followed suit, some local pinball bans have only recently recently been lifted, after people discovered such laws were still in place. See also: Pinball: From Illegal Gambling Game to American Obsession (VICE short documentary).
posted by filthy light thief on May 29, 2015 - 13 comments

Filming everyday life near the end of the Soviet Union

Former TV cameraman Rick Suddeth has posted numerous videos of everyday life in the former Soviet Union in the 1980s and early 1990s. These are mostly raw footage or lightly edited, some are silent. Moscow traffic ca. 1986. Moscow grocery store ca. 1990. Universam Department Store, Moscow, 1990. Queuing for wine at a state liquor store. In the Cosmos Night Club. [more inside]
posted by Rumple on May 29, 2015 - 18 comments

Meet Addy

In 1864, a nine-year-old slave girl was punished for daydreaming. Distracted by rumors that her brother and father would be sold, she failed to remove worms from the tobacco leaves she was picking. The overseer didn’t whip her. Instead, he pried her mouth open, stuffed a worm inside, and forced her to eat it. This girl is not real.
posted by ChuraChura on May 29, 2015 - 53 comments

Australopithecus deyiremeda

Yesterday, Yohannes Haile-Selassie of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and his colleagues reported finding a jaw in Ethiopia that belonged to an human relative that lived between 3.3 and 3.5 million years ago. Their article appears today in Nature.
posted by roomthreeseventeen on May 28, 2015 - 16 comments

From 2 Tone to grime, youth cults showcase a vibrant history of Britain

Something about this country – the divisions, the class system, the general sense of distrust and dissatisfaction – seems to breed youth subcultures like no other place on Earth. The strange, stylish clans that this island incubates have been exported across the world, influencing everything from high street fashion to high art. From teddy boys to 2 Tone rudeboys, soulboys to Slipknot fans, grunge bands to grime crews, mods to mod revivalists, the history of these groups shows us a version of modern Britain that goes way beyond Diana and Blair.
[more inside] posted by ellieBOA on May 28, 2015 - 8 comments

Additional props are potato chips, pickles and olives

The New York Times has been around long enough to report on more or less everything, and its First Glimpses feature occasionally dives into the archives to see when some notable thing was mentioned for the very first time. This week, it's cheeseburgers. [more inside]
posted by Etrigan on May 27, 2015 - 37 comments

♫ "Is he strong? Listen bud, he’s got radioactive blood." ♪

"The Secret History of Ultimate Marvel, the Experiment That Changed Superheroes Forever"
posted by zarq on May 27, 2015 - 113 comments

And nobody used this for a fantasy novel yet?

So it turns out rather than religious fanatics unused to the freedom found in Holland, New England was actually founded by a bunch of Anglo-Saxon sell swords who had fled the British Isles after the Norman invasion on land given by a grateful byzantine emperor on the north-east coast of the Black Sea. Confused? Intrigued? Let Dr. Caitlin R. Green explain and set out the evidence for the existence of a 11th century New England/Nova Anglia.
posted by MartinWisse on May 27, 2015 - 32 comments

A Goode Soop

Cooking In The Archives: recreating recipes from the Early Modern Peroid (1600s-1800s) in a modern kitchen. Not old enough? Then try some authentically medieval recipes.
posted by The Whelk on May 27, 2015 - 41 comments

Emerald. Elegant. Curious. Hidden. Unseen. Dragon. Treasures. Unbound.

The Asians Art Museum is a parody site bringing a cirtical lens to orientalist tropes in art museums, prompted particularly by rhetorical choices of the San Francisco Art Museum's 2009 Lords of the Samurai exhibition [audio]. It highlights the tendency for museums showing Asian art to present their shows as a"a harmless trip to a fantasyland of romanticized premodern Otherness, a place where dreams of Manifest Destiny never have to die?" [more inside]
posted by Miko on May 21, 2015 - 24 comments

How long animals live (in ISOTYPE)

How long do animals live? (via) [more inside]
posted by aniola on May 20, 2015 - 37 comments

The Empathetic Camera

Frank Norris and the Invention of Film Editing: "At the heart of American author Frank Norris’ gritty turn-of-the-century fiction lies an essential engagement with the everyday shock and violence of modernity. Henry Giardina explores how this focus, combined with his unique approach to storytelling, helped to pave the way for a truly filmic style."
posted by Rumple on May 20, 2015 - 2 comments

A Broad Box Labeled "Beautiful Things"

For tens of thousands of years, wild horses have inspired humans - to nurture, to create, to slaughter - culminating in the past century of America’s legal and psychological battles over the horses we can’t own. [more inside]
posted by erratic meatsack on May 19, 2015 - 23 comments

"their intimate, closely guarded songs from home, camp and ghetto"

The Stonehill Jewish Song Collection is a website by the Center for Traditional Music and Dance containing songs sung by Jewish refugees in Hotel Marseilles in New York in 1948. All songs include the original lyrics and translations into English. Not all the songs have been digitized and translated already, but there is a variety of themes already, with more on the way soon. The songs were collected and recorded by Ben Stonehill who went to the refugees and asked them to sing anything they like.
posted by Kattullus on May 17, 2015 - 5 comments

Her legacy is rooted in resisting the foundation of American capitalism.

Keep Harriet Tubman – and all women – off the $20 bill. "Harriet Tubman did not fight for capitalism, free trade, or competitive markets." [more inside]
posted by NoraReed on May 14, 2015 - 66 comments

The Texas Instruments TMX 1795: the first, forgotten microprocessor

In the late 60's and early 70's, the technology and market were emerging to set the stage for production of monolithic, single-chip CPUs. In 1969, A terminal equipment manufacturer met with Intel to design a processor that was smaller and would generate less heat than the dozens of TTL chips they were using. The resulting design was the 8008, which is well known as the predecessor to the x86 line of processors that are ubiquitous in desktop PC's today. Less well known though, is that Texas Instruments came up with a competing design, and due to development delays at Intel, beat them to production by about nine months. [more inside]
posted by ArgentCorvid on May 11, 2015 - 17 comments

changing from a 'bad' man to a 'good' woman

"D’Eon exploited this remarkable situation to transition to womanhood, getting both the English and French governments to declare that 'Monsieur d’Eon is a woman.' The press closely followed these announcements and, starting in 1777, d’Eon lived her life legally recognized as a woman. In Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman, d’Eon is held up as one of the most remarkable women of her century." Transgender celebrities are not new. Just read London newspapers from 1770, The Guardian
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on May 9, 2015 - 8 comments

The Great & Beautiful Lost Kingdoms

Yet to tell the diffusion of Indian influence at this period as two separate processes partially obscures a still more extraordinary story. For it is now increasingly clear that between the fourth and twelfth centuries the influence of India in both Southeast and Central Asia, and to some degree also China, was comparable to the influence of Greece in Aegean Turkey and Rome, and then in the rest of Europe in the early centuries BC. From the empire of the Gupta dynasty in the north and that of the Pallava dynasty in the south, India during this period radiated its philosophies, political ideas, and architectural forms out over an entire continent not by conquest but by sheer cultural sophistication.
posted by infini on May 9, 2015 - 21 comments

A 1690s advice column

A 1690s advice column
posted by deathpanels on May 7, 2015 - 51 comments

I think that splotch was Tabasco

" “I tell my daughters that when I go, they’ll know the good recipes from the dirty pages.” [NYT]] A group of Nashville writers mounts an exhibit of the dirty pages from their own family cookbooks.
posted by Miko on May 6, 2015 - 21 comments

America's Music Triangle

A new approach to framing and promoting the South's music heritage...but they left out Bristol!
posted by mmiddle on May 5, 2015 - 6 comments

Rated R but for the bleeps

Last December, we (The Dissolve) ran an excellent essay from familiar face Chris Klimek on the regrettable history of the PG-13 rating. He explained how the huge gulf in content between PG and R films necessitated the creation of a middle ground. The PG-13 rating was created expressly to attend to that problem, but that created a handful of problems all its own… Animator Mack Williams cooked up the video below, which reshapes Chris’ essay into a snappy, informative, and visually slick cartoon.
posted by Going To Maine on May 4, 2015 - 12 comments

African-American migrants to the Soviet Union

"My father felt that the U.S.S.R. treated him better than America. He was happy here."
posted by the hot hot side of randy on May 3, 2015 - 24 comments

Ancient Mayan Urban Planning

Early Urban Planning: Ancient Mayan City Built on Grid No other city from the Maya world was planned using this grid design, researchers say. There is more background on what was typical on Urban Planning in Ancient Central Mexico.
posted by Michele in California on May 2, 2015 - 3 comments

So many more stories of fascinating and brilliant women to be told

"Every one of these sites is worthy of visiting." Sophia Dembling highlights U.S. women's museums and sites for The Toast. Related: Women in Game Developement, a recently opened exhibit at the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment in Oakland, California. This exhibit features the work of early developers like Roberta Williams, Carol Shaw, Amy Henning, and more — see MADE's webpage for full list and game screenshots.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on May 1, 2015 - 5 comments

Compton's cowboys: the urban oddity of Richland Farms

When [Griffith Dickenson Compton, a Methodist minister and leader of a temperance group] donated his land to incorporate and create the city of Compton in 1889, he stipulated that a certain acreage be zoned for agricultural purposes only -- thus Richland Farms was born.
This isn't such a unique thing, except Richland farms is still focused on agriculture, while the rest of Los Angeles County became urbanized. It's here you can find Compton's cowboys who support the Compton Jr. Posse, which focuses on ranching, riding, education and outreach. And if you watch the rodeo circuit, you might have seen Tre Hosley representing his community. You can read much more about Richland Farms and its residents in KCET's online Communities series.
posted by filthy light thief on May 1, 2015 - 10 comments

Whisk Me Away!

Ever wanted one of those Elizabethan wing-looking collars? If so, the Very Merry Seamstress has you covered.
posted by Peregrine Pickle on Apr 30, 2015 - 8 comments

“Detroit turned out to be heaven, but it also turned out to be hell.”

1967 NBC News Special Report: "Summer of '67"[YouTube]
The 1967 Detroit riot, also known as the 12th Street riot, was a violent public disorder that turned into a civil disturbance in Detroit, Michigan. It began on a Saturday night in the early morning hours of July 23, 1967. The precipitating event was a police raid of an unlicensed, after-hours bar then known as a blind pig, on the corner of 12th (today Rosa Parks Boulevard) and Clairmount streets on the city's Near West Side. Police confrontations with patrons and observers on the street evolved into one of the deadliest and most destructive riots in United States history, lasting five days and surpassing the violence and property destruction of Detroit's 1943 race riot. [Wiki]
posted by Fizz on Apr 30, 2015 - 16 comments

How Baltimore became Baltimore

The Washington Post sheds some much needed, highly relevant historical context on "[t]he long, painful and repetitive history of how Baltimore became Baltimore". [more inside]
posted by ourt on Apr 30, 2015 - 32 comments

Atari Retrospectives: myths and legends from first-hand participants

Why read lengthy articles on the history of Atari when you can hear stories first-hand? Hear Nolan Bushnell (and a few others) tell all about how a little company named Syzygy became Atari, in clips both new(ish) and old; tune in for four episodes of Once Upon Atari, featuring Atari staff reminiscing about the good times and bad; and visit Alamogordo, New Mexico, home of rocket sled land-speed records and the grave of Ham, the first chimp in space, with Zak Penn as he digs for the truth behind the legend of the buried E.T. cartridges in Atari: Game Over with fans and Howard Scott Warshaw, the man who made the Atari E.T. game in five weeks. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Apr 29, 2015 - 11 comments

Gum is the impossible meal.

An Oral History of Radiohead's OK Computer.
posted by kenko on Apr 29, 2015 - 29 comments

The Forgotten Dead

Pennsylvania's oldest and largest is 400 acres. The oldest in New Jersey is now "trapped in the 19th century." NYC turned many into parks. What happens when a cemetery goes under? [more inside]
posted by zarq on Apr 28, 2015 - 27 comments

Short-Termism, Secular Stagnation and Political Decay

Foundation: Public Goods and Options for the Bottom Billions - "Human beings just don't handle the very long run well" and that's where government increasingly comes in... (via) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Apr 23, 2015 - 6 comments

"Almost too tasteless for words"

The signature image in Little Boy, a colossal miscalculation in audience uplift, is of the title character stretching out his arms, scrunching up his face, and groaning with intense concentration. Small for his age, hence the nickname, 7-year-old Pepper Flint Busbee (Jakob Salvati) performs this ritual several times throughout the film, always when attempting to move an object with the sheer power of his belief. More often than not, it actually works: Onstage, during a magic show, he appears to slide a glass bottle across a table, Jedi-style. Later, in a far grander display of his apparent gifts, he wows a crowd of skeptics by seemingly creating an earthquake while trying to nudge a mountain. What Pepper really wants, though, is to bring his father back from the war. And so he stands on a dock and points his hands in the direction of the Pacific Ocean, defying the setting sun, focusing all his desire on one point in the distance, until…
Little Boy: The Film That Goes There [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Apr 23, 2015 - 198 comments

Rolling Down to Old Maui

For decades, Maui was the whaling capital of the world. Whalers descended upon the islands in vast numbers as a port of supply and resting in between six-month jaunts to the Arctic North. The Candian and American whalers influenced Hawaiian culture, of course, bringing potato farming and prostitution in their wake. But the transfer wasn't all one way--Hawaiian-born whalers visited Nantucket, and Nantucket papers certainly reported on Hawaiian politics.
posted by sciatrix on Apr 22, 2015 - 12 comments

Cannons on Clark Street

In Chicago's early years, city politics were a dull non-partisan affair. That changed in 1855, when a coalition of temperance advocates and anti-Catholic Know Nothings took advantage of low voter turnout to seize city hall.
Once elected, Mayor Levi Boone and the new council majority hiked liquor license fees while also shortening license terms from one year to three months. Expecting resistance, Mayor Boone “reformed” the city's police force: tripling its size, refusing to hire immigrants, requiring police to wear uniforms for the first time, and directing them to enforce an old, previously ignored ordinance requiring the Sunday closing of taverns and saloons. These were intentionally provocative acts aimed at Germans and Irish accustomed to spending their leisure hours in drinking establishments. [...] Prosecutions clogged the city courts and attorneys scheduled a test case for April 21. This, in effect, scheduled the riot.
Today is the 160th anniversary of the Lager Beer Riot, Chicago's first civil disturbance. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Apr 21, 2015 - 20 comments

A Beautiful Question: Finding Nature's Deep Design

Frank Wilczek: Physics in 100 Years [pdf] - "Here I indulge in wide-ranging speculations on the shape of physics, and technology closely related to physics, over the next one hundred years. Themes include the many faces of unification, the re-imagining of quantum theory, and new forms of engineering on small, intermediate, and large scales." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Apr 19, 2015 - 11 comments

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