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A cartographic history of why North, not East or South, is up

How the north ended up on top of the map is an article by Nick Danforth, author/curator of (The/Mid) Afternoon Map blog, detailing how the north-up orientation came to be the default orientation, looking beyond Eurocentrism to Byzantine monks and Majorcan Jews who set the path for modern cartography. If you want more information, you might enjoy the Wikipedia article on the history of cartography, or you can really dig deep with the three-volume text, The History of Cartography, which is available in full from the University of Chicago Press online, split into individual PDFs for each chapter. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Feb 18, 2014 - 28 comments

 

The Gay Internment Camp on San Domino, a Product of Fascist Italy

Though homosexual activities weren't a crime under Italy's fascist regime, there was persecution and blackmail of men of "dubious virility." The hidden threat of homosexual men was so strong that the attempt to criminalize homosexuality failed because to pass such a law would only "publicize" homosexuality (Google books preview). It was in that context that Benito Mussolini declared Italy too masculine for homosexuals to exist, rounded up around 45 men believed to be homosexuals, and sent them into "internal exile" on San Domino, in the Isole Tremiti archepeligo. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Jun 22, 2013 - 16 comments

The lost island of Ferdinandea, AKA Graham Island, AKA Île Julia

In 1831, the Mediterranean south of Sicily began to boil and bubble, and before long a volcanic island appeared, in full eruption. The English were the first to lay claim to the new island, naming it Graham Island, for James Graham, First Lord of the Admiralty. Then the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies laid claim to the island, removing the Union Jack and naming the island Ferdinandea, after King Ferdinand II. The next nation to claim the island was France, though initial French interest was in the geology of the newly emerged island (Google translation of French text, much from geologist Constant Prévost). France's choice of names was practical, Île Julia, as the island was formed in July. Spain also tried to lay claim to the newly formed island, setting the stage for a grand four-way dispute over its sovereignty, but before a single shot could be fired over its possession, geology rapidly had the last word on the matter. Graham Island/ Ferdinandea/ Île Julia crumbled in on itself and all but disappeared by the end of the year. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Jun 11, 2013 - 16 comments

Landmines in the fine print: interest rate swaps in Italy

Interest rate swap derivatives have not only turned sour for local governments and agencies across the United States. London-based banks are accused of massive mis-selling to dozens of Italian cities and regions. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Sep 15, 2012 - 60 comments

Site-seeing in Virtual Rome

Villanova University, who first made the VR Tour of the Sistine Chapel, have made more of the Vatican’s most sacred sites virtually available online: the basilicas of St. Peter, St. Paul, St. John Lateran, and St. Mary Major, as well as the Pauline Chapel. Bonus: smaller panoramas from other historic Roman sites, but you'll have to deal with tourists.
posted by filthy light thief on Jan 4, 2011 - 12 comments

Thousands of years old "fresh" crater discovered in Egypt

Early into the Egypt-Italy Science Year 2009, a crater was found by a research team with Google Earth on the hyperarid southern edge of Egypt. Not associated with the earlier documented Clayton craters located in the south-east corner of Egypt, the recently discovered crater is unique for its untouched, pristine nature that appears more similar to other planets and moons with thin atmospheres, even though the impact has been estimated to be a few thousand years old. The crater, labeled Gebel Kamil, will be the 177th known impact site on Earth, as logged by the Earth Impact Database. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Jul 26, 2010 - 29 comments

Andy Warhol's Frankenstein and Dracula: almost begs the gorge to rise

Though film is not generally Andy Warhol's field of greatest fame, some see his long and storied history in film as "where Warhol's supreme achievement lies". And then there are the two horror films from 1973: Andy Warhol's Frankenstein (or Flesh for Frankenstein) and Andy Warhol's Dracula (or Blood for Dracula). The two films were filmed quickly and inexpensively in the Spring of 1973, using the Roger Corman method of filming two movies at one location using the same actors to decrease costs. Frankenstein was filmed first, using Space-Vision 3-D. But filming 3D footage was too expensive and time-consuming, so Dracula was shot in standard 35mm film. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on May 21, 2009 - 23 comments

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