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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

Flipping the corruption myth

Dr. Jason Hickel, LSE lecturer who was born and brought up in Swaziland, writes on Transparency International's latest Corruption Perception Index and its eyecatching global map. Here's a tiny snippet to encourage you to read the rest of the article on Al Jazeera:
Many international development organisations hold that persistent poverty in the Global South is caused largely by corruption among local public officials. In 2003 these concerns led to the United Nations Convention against Corruption, which asserts that, while corruption exists in all countries, this "evil phenomenon" is "most destructive" in the global South, where it is a "key element in economic underperformance and a major obstacle to poverty alleviation and development". There's only one problem with this theory: It's just not true.
[more inside]
posted by infini on Feb 3, 2014 - 46 comments

Kanye West appropriates Confederate flag design

"In making the Confederate flag the icon behind his new tour, Kanye West is changing the meaning of a racist icon." He'll be using the flag on Yeezus tour merchandise, and he wore a bomber jacket with a large Confederate flag patch on the arm during a recent trip to Barney's, ostensibly as a statement about the Barney's profiling scandal.
posted by ChuckRamone on Nov 5, 2013 - 182 comments

Remarkable 19th century photographs by Timothy O'Sullivan

How the Wild West really looked: Gorgeous pictures show the landscape as it was charted for the very first time 150 years ago. Previously. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Sep 1, 2013 - 13 comments

Project Needles: not a hipster knitting collective

It's 1963. You're in a cold war with Russia. You want to keep up communication capabilities globally. Communication satellites haven't come into their own. The ionosphere is fickle and jammable. What do you do? You fire 480 million tiny copper wires into space to create an artificial dipole antenna belt around the earth. You call it Project West Ford. It works. [more inside]
posted by cortex on Aug 27, 2013 - 26 comments

a long tradition of black artists for whom self-love is a political act

In Defense Of Kanye’s Vanity: The Politics Of Black Self-Love
"Kanye West has become a pop-culture punch line, but those who have dismissed him as aimlessly arrogant have missed the point. He is part of a long tradition of black artists who have fashioned a deeply political articulation of what it means to love yourself."

Previously on Metafilter: Complete awesomeness at all times
posted by andoatnp on Jun 22, 2013 - 284 comments

In global politics, playing by the rules doesn’t always help.

Western Sahara: Why Africa’s last colony can’t break free
posted by infini on Jun 19, 2013 - 20 comments

Complete awesomeness at all times

Promotion is ramping up for the sixth studio album by Kanye West, the modestly titled "Yeezus", due for release June 18. The 36 year-old rapper and producer debuted the songs "Black Skinhead" and "New Slaves" on SNL, following up by projecting videos for the songs on buildings across the country. In a new interview, Kanye shares his grandiose artistic ambitions and frustrations.
posted by chrchr on Jun 11, 2013 - 234 comments

"...your trauma high is always someone else’s trauma."

Fire School
posted by zarq on May 27, 2013 - 13 comments

Major explosion rocks West, Texas

A massive fireball and explosion has happened at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas (just north of Waco). Hundreds of injuries are being reported. [more inside]
posted by item on Apr 17, 2013 - 414 comments

"The magic of nature’s alchemy."

Alchemy is a stunningly beautiful 4k HD timelapse of a year's worth of season changes in American West. [via]
posted by quin on Apr 15, 2013 - 11 comments

"Crossroads possess a certain dangerous potency."

How Things Fell Apart, By Chinua Achebe - 'In an excerpt from his long-awaited memoir, the inventor of the post-colonial African novel in English discusses his origins as a writer and the seeds of revolt against the British Empire.'
I can say that my whole artistic career was probably sparked by this tension between the Christian religion of my parents, which we followed in our home, and the retreating, older religion of my ancestors, which fortunately for me was still active outside my home. I still had access to a number of relatives who had not converted to Christianity and were called heathens by the new converts. When my parents were not watching I would often sneak off in the evenings to visit some of these relatives.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Oct 25, 2012 - 10 comments

From a fluke of cartography to a fluke of geology

A beautifully written saga of a long-distance traveler's in-progress kayak journey from the Northwest Angle to Key West. [more inside]
posted by Ickster on Oct 18, 2012 - 12 comments

Always wondered if Tom went on to work in banking.

John D. Fitzgerald had written three fictionalized memoirs of his family's life in the late 19th-century Utah west before the night he happened to regale a group of friends with childhood stories of his money-crazed brother, Tom. At their urging, he crafted a funny and clever series of children's books chronicling the adventures of The Great Brain. Like countless other readers, the blogger and researcher behind Finding Fitzgerald (and its companion blog and Facebook page) has been fascinated with discovering the real settings and stories behind the books. And the truly committed can even watch Jimmy Osmond in the 1978 film adaptation.
posted by Miko on Oct 10, 2012 - 40 comments

Ed Quillen: another dead columnist.

Sadly, a great and little known columnist from Salida, Colorado, has just passed away. His work remains online. His small-town values were the best of small-town values. His political views were well-considered, but not always doctrinaire. Check out his final column for an example of his wit and common sense. I will miss him immensely. (Another Denver columnist I love just checked out - of work, not life, and not voluntarily - Tina Griego: this is her goodbye column.) Our newspaper grows thinner and shriller.
posted by kozad on Jun 4, 2012 - 12 comments

In West Virginia, money grows on trees

In the state of West Virginia, the government has just purchased 1064 Cisco 3945 routers at a price of $22,600 each. These are being used to service small public libraries with as few as four PCs when a much smaller router such as the Cisco 1801 would be more appropriate. Local journalists have found out about this and are starting their own investigation. A consulting firm has been retained to audit what exactly happened. [more inside]
posted by thewalrus on May 11, 2012 - 96 comments

Yes, but do they have a secret plan to fight inflation?

"It’s been nearly 6 years since the series finale of The West Wing, and more than 12 since the one-hour drama, which [Aaron] Sorkin created and largely wrote, first walked and talked its way through NBC’s Wednesday-night lineup; and yet you might think the series never ended, given the currency it still seems to enjoy in Washington, the frequency with which it comes up in D.C. conversations and is quoted or referenced on political blogs. In part this is because the smart, nerdy—they might prefer “precocious”—kids who grew up in the early part of the last decade worshipping the cool, technocratic charm of Sorkin’s characters have today matured into the young policy prodigies and press operatives who advise, brief, and excuse the behavior of the most powerful people in the country."
posted by zarq on Mar 11, 2012 - 134 comments

Borders. Security. Refugees. Jerusalem.

The Atlantic is in the middle of a four-part special report on the Israel / Palestinian peace process, called "Is Peace Possible?" which features multimedia presentations on and analyses of what they believe are the four core issues of the conflict: Borders, Security, Refugees, and Jerusalem. (The latter two will be released on Monday, November 7 and 14th, respectively) The report was put together in collaboration with the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Nov 1, 2011 - 21 comments

The last of the famous international playboys

"The Beatles and the Rolling Stones rule pop music, Carnaby Street ruled the fashion world...and me and my brother ruled London." Reginald "Reggie" Kray and his twin brother Ronald "Ronnie" Kray were the foremost perpetrators of organized crime in London's East End during the 1950s and 1960s. [more inside]
posted by punkfloyd on Oct 6, 2011 - 25 comments

Adam West had the right to remain silent ... a pity he didn't exercise that right

I'm so sorry, Metafilter, really I am. I don't know what's come over me, but I am posting one of the dopiest, most embarrassing celebrity novelty tunes ever recorded. It's by the fellow who played Batman in the 60s TV series, Adam West, in a breathtakingly stupid recording of an utterly ridiculous song called Miranda. I pray that you'll forgive me for my indiscretion, and I promise I will post some inspiring and worthwhile music next time around.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Aug 30, 2011 - 41 comments

Location, location, location.

If you have a spare $799,999, you can buy the town of Scenic, South Dakota. [more inside]
posted by flyingsquirrel on Jul 28, 2011 - 96 comments

No Pardon for Billy

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has declined to pardon William H. Bonney, aka Kid Antrim, aka Henry McCarty, but best known as Billy the Kid. [more inside]
posted by steambadger on Dec 31, 2010 - 44 comments

Cuss all you want, but only around men, horses, and cows

Old Western Slang and Lingo also Insults and the Code of the West
posted by Del Far on Mar 3, 2009 - 32 comments

The Brotherhood of the Very Expensive Pants

"It's like I used to enjoy firecrackers, but now it takes dynamite to get me high." Brit Eaton takes Outside magazine on a safari for vintage clothing in the wild west. (via)
posted by 1f2frfbf on Jan 21, 2009 - 19 comments

Tear me apart at the seams

India, as she is today, was carved out of British India, in 1947 when the left and right hand sides of the country became the new nation of Pakistan (East and West) respectively. While the history of Islamic influence and subsequent tolerance and intolerance goes back centuries to the first advent of the Mughal invasion, it has been said that the post Independence troubles of the modern nations of India and Pakistan stem from this sundering. In 1971, war brought forth Bangladesh from the former East Pakistan on India's eastern border. The Partition, as this holocaust is known, embedded in current day Indian memory, history, culture, movies, books, TV serials and music, was an unimaginable horror of slaughter and bloodshed. This separation was not in the plans of the Mahatma, and it is said he was assassinated by Hindu fundamentalists for letting it happen. What future awaits the Hindus and Muslims who have lived side by side for hundreds of years?
posted by infini on Nov 26, 2008 - 37 comments

Soiled doves, prairie nymphs, filles de joie & the old west sporting life

Meet Dora DuFran and her cat house of Deadwood; Perle De Vere and the working girls of Cripple Creek; Annie Chambers of Kansas City; and Squirrel Tooth Alice of Sweetwater. In the wild west, prostitution was one of the few career options for women. Western history is filled with many colorful tales of shady ladies and legendary madams. [more inside]
posted by madamjujujive on Sep 21, 2008 - 15 comments

Denny's Saved by Googie

A recent decision by the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board has saved an abandoned Denny's restaurant from the wrecking ball. On closer inspection the restaurant represents Googie-style architecture which was considered futuristic in the 60's. Granted it's not on par with the future of today. But there are some appealing offshoots in North West modernist designs. (Googie previously here).
posted by lightweight on Mar 15, 2008 - 42 comments

I like to see how I'm doing -- Mae West

Dick Cavett interviews Mae West (1976). Part two. (YouTube)
posted by Astro Zombie on Nov 24, 2007 - 20 comments

New Evidence in the case of the West Memphis 3

New evidence in the case of the West Memphis 3 claims that "there was no DNA from the three defendants found at the scene, the mutilation was actually the work of animals and at least one person other than the defendants may have been present at the crime scene." [previous thread]
posted by billysumday on Oct 30, 2007 - 40 comments

Eastern vs. western culture, in icons

An art exhibition depicting some of the differences between eastern and western culture, using iconography. Examples include but are not limited to “opinions,” “waiting in a queue,” and “leaders.” And a couple more.
posted by tepidmonkey on Oct 6, 2007 - 42 comments

Deja View: Historic landscape "rephotos" (1800s, 1970s, 1990s)

The Third View project is a fascinating presentation of "rephotographs" of over 100 historic landscape sites in the American West that presents original 19th-century survey photographs, photographed again in the 1970s, then once again in the '90s - from the original vantage points, under similar lighting conditions, at (roughly) the same time of day and year. [Flash, and you'll probably need to allow pop-ups; a little more info inside...]
posted by taz on Jun 15, 2007 - 13 comments

Three State Solution

The Hamas-Fatah civil war seems to be winding down in Gaza. Meanwhile, Palestinian and Israeli bloggers discuss the idea that the West Bank will go into confederation with Jordan; leaving Gaza to the Egyptians.
posted by humanfont on Jun 14, 2007 - 30 comments

History of Western Civilization Video Series

The Western Tradition, an outstanding 52-part instructional video series about the history of western civilization, is available as free streaming video.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot on May 31, 2007 - 13 comments

Forever-Flying-Bird

When Everybody Called Me Gah-bay-bi-nayss - an ethnographic biography of Paul Peter Buffalo, son of Ojibwa medicine woman and grandson of the great chief Pezeke. Buffalo died in 1977, but spent his last dozen years chronicling his heritage and the things the elders told him. Be sure to check out the entry on John Smith, a wonderful character more popularly known as Wrinkle Meat.
posted by madamjujujive on Nov 16, 2006 - 8 comments

Diary of a Forty-Niner

Alex Ramsey's journal gives an account of his journey westward to join the 1849 Gold Rush, a laborious trek of no more than twenty-five miles a day which ended in illness and disappointment. "I am now convinced that I done very wrong in coming here with the hope of bettering my pecuniary condition alone and I now declare and humbly ask God to enable me to perform my promise that if I am again permitted to return to a land of peace and quietude, that I will strive to be content." From the Wyoming State Archives' Document Photo Gallery.
posted by Miko on Sep 14, 2006 - 16 comments

Next door, yet worlds apart, we look at each other

While the nonpartisan Pew Research Center normally focuses on US domestic issues, such as the recently and narrowly failed flag-burning amendment, the Pew Global Attitudes Project takes a wider view with reports such as The Great Divide: How Westerners and Muslims View Each Other and 16-Nation Pew Global Attitudes Survey, with results that are parts obvious, non-obvious, foreboding, hopeful and contradictory in how the two societies seemingly feel about themselves and each other. [mi]
posted by Mr. Six on Jun 28, 2006 - 8 comments

Gettysburg of the West

The Battle of Glorieta Pass is considered the turning point of the Civil War, in terms of the New Mexico Territory. It happened March 26-28th, 1862. Initially Charles L. Pyron and William Reed Scurry's Confederate force, based at Johnson's Ranch, thought that they had won the battle. They would soon learn that the Union troops, lead by John P. Slough, had circled and destroyed their supplies, leading to Scurry's retreat towards San Antonio. More detailed battle info: [1] [2]-Some site photos.
posted by rollbiz on Mar 27, 2006 - 27 comments

Two Guns, Arizona.

Out along old Route 66 in Northern Arizona is Canyon Diablo. Best known for its large meteor crater, the canyon and its surroundings contain another fantastic story. It begins in the mid 1870’s with a Apache raid on the Navajo that ended in the gruesome death of some 50 Apaches trapped in what is now called “The Apache Death Cave”. The story picks up about 10 years later in 1880 when the Atlantic and Pacific railroad ran out of money at the canyon’s edge. Unable to progress any further a make shift boom town grew up over night. Said to be more dangerous than Tombstone and Dodge City combined, the first sheriff appointed at 3pm was dead by 8pm that same night. The city of Canyon Diablo lasted 10 grizzly years, ending only when the US Army was dispatched to gain control over the murder, theft and prostitution that ran rampant. The story continues in 1920 at the inception of Route 66. Harry E. (Indian) Miller, opens up one of the first and what would become one of the most elaborate Route 66 trading posts/gas station/curio shop/ tourist attractions. Named Two Guns, it was complete with Hopi made buildings, a gas station, a well-lit “Death Cave” , a “zoo” of filled with the local fauna. and lots of colorful characters. In a short time, the roadside stop began to take on what many by that time calling the curse of Canyon Diablo. Shady business deals, fires, maimings, and murder abounded. After several attempts thru the 50’s and 60’s to rebuild ,all that is left is a crumbling, beautiful husk.
posted by BrodieShadeTree on Feb 21, 2006 - 28 comments

Eastern vs. Western Philosophy

The other philosophy: Eastern
posted by Gyan on Jan 26, 2006 - 31 comments

Kanye & Pympton

"Heard 'Em Say" is Kanye West's latest video, animated by the legendary Bill Plympton.
posted by XQUZYPHYR on Dec 1, 2005 - 87 comments

Edward Curtis & Native American Photography

Selling the American Indian: The controversial work of Edward S. Curtis
posted by .kobayashi. on Sep 20, 2005 - 21 comments

oh jeez.

Kanye West gets twitchy on Red Cross Benefit Oh goodness. The young prankster in me loves this kind of thing. The boring matured realist version of me finds this divisive bumper-stickerism toxic to our modern political dialogue. And worse still I see the following scenario unfold: Kanye West: "George Bush doesn't care about black people". Cut to: My mother-in-law in front of the tv, slowly putting her checkbook back into her purse.
posted by glenwood on Sep 2, 2005 - 187 comments

No West

Will the notion of the "West" soon be politically meaningless? A fascinating article by Brian Walden which raises questions about the direction Europe and the wider community is heading in C21. Some of the comments are particularly interesting.
posted by tommyc on May 30, 2005 - 17 comments

An enduring and beautiful People

Faces young and old, mothers and children, dolls; hunting rabbit, making fire, dancing: Archived photographs of Arizona's Indians from the turn-of-the-twentieth. Plus reference materials.
posted by breezeway on Apr 7, 2005 - 8 comments

Cowgirls, daredevils, and rodeo queens

Most folks know about Jane and Annie but there were many more oldtime daredevils and rodeo queens who paved the way for contemporary cowgirls (flash). More than 170 trailblazers are included in the Dallas Cowgirl Hall of Fame...women who have been the inspiration for art, erotica, kitsch, and the dreams of girls of all ages.
posted by madamjujujive on Mar 13, 2005 - 12 comments

This Is How Historical Fiction Should Be Done!

HBO's Deadwood is quite possibly the best television show ever produced. Not only is it amazingly gripping stuff, it's also meticulously researched. (Pretty easy to do when the entire city is a registered historic landmark.)
Sure, we all know that Wild Bill and Calamity Jane were real people. As it turns out, though, almost every main character in the show (and many minor ones) had a real life counterpart, as did many of the events.
Deadwood notables EB Farnum, Reverend H W Smith, Seth Bullock and his partner Sol Star, Colorado Charlie Utter, Al Swerengen with his Gem Saloon, and the crosseyed gambler Jack McCall all lived and breathed in one of America's most storied cities.
posted by absalom on Dec 10, 2004 - 82 comments

Black, White and Brown

Black, White & Brown. A great 9-part video feature on the NYT site (registration required) featuring a discussing between Cornel West and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. commemorating the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education.
posted by adrober on May 16, 2004 - 2 comments

Muslim states hate us because their culture is backwards and corrupt,

Muslim states hate us because their culture is backwards and corrupt, according to a Wall Street Journal editorial. The writer, tired of America-bashing, explores the inferiority complex of the Arab world: "Like Third World Marxists of the 1960s, who put blame for their own self-inflicted misery upon corporations, colonialism and racism--anything other than the absence of real markets and a free society--the Islamic intelligentsia recognizes the Muslim world's inferiority vis-à-vis the West, but it then seeks to fault others for its own self-created fiasco. Government spokesmen in the Middle East should ignore the nonsense of the cultural relativists and discredited Marxists and have the courage to say that they are poor because their populations are nearly half illiterate, that their governments are not free, that their economies are not open, and that their fundamentalists impede scientific inquiry, unpopular expression and cultural exchange." via kuro5hin
posted by swift on Feb 26, 2002 - 36 comments

Looking the World in the Eye

Looking the World in the Eye Huntington, a Harvard prof., lays out his vision for the future of the clash of civilizations in an article in The Atlantic Monthly. The main points are- • The fact that the world is modernizing does not mean that it is Westernizing. The impact of urbanization and mass communications, coupled with poverty and ethnic divisions, will not lead to peoples' everywhere thinking as we do. • Asia, despite its ups and downs, is expanding militarily and economically. Islam is exploding demographically. The West may be declining in relative influence. • Culture-consciousness is getting stronger, not weaker, and states or peoples may band together because of cul tural similarities rather than because of ideological ones, as in the past. • The Western belief that parliamentary democracy and free markets are suitable for everyone will bring the West into conflict with civilizations—notably, Islam and the Chinese— that think differently. • In a multi-polar world based loosely on civilizations rather than on ideologies, Americans must reaffirm their Western identity.
posted by SandeepKrishnamurthy on Nov 28, 2001 - 8 comments

Here's

Here's an interesting take on the whole western ideals v eastern ideals idea. The collapse of the Soviet Union as harbinger of the collapse of the west? Well, maybe not from the perspective of your average neo-libertarian. From the perspective of someone who didn't buy into the Enlightenment, from where springs both liberal democracy and marxism, then it may just look like one process. Interesting article from the 'Other Side of the Hill'.
posted by vbfg on Sep 17, 2001 - 4 comments

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