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Explaining American Culture

It seems strange, 20 years after the fall of the Iron Curtain, that ordinary Russians would still be hungry for details about how ordinary Americans eat and pay mortgages. But to Mr. Zlobin’s surprise, his book — published this year and marketed as a guide to Russians considering a move abroad — is already in its fifth print run, and his publisher has commissioned a second volume. - MOSCOW JOURNAL, A Hunger for Tales of Life in the American Cul-de-Sac (SLNYTIMES)
posted by beisny on Dec 11, 2012 - 16 comments

"...the first decade of the 21st century can be viewed as a singularly male-dominated era in American cinema."

New York Times Magazine "Hollywood Issue": Hollywood’s Year of Heroine Worship. Accompanied by an online web series of 13 original, short films: Wide Awake, each starring an actress whose performance helped 'define the year in film.' [more inside]
posted by zarq on Dec 10, 2012 - 16 comments

“Commitment vows are very powerful, even in a cynical era when people aren't afraid of getting divorced,”

Families in Flux:"As household arrangements take new directions, scientists attempt to sort out the social effects" [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Dec 6, 2012 - 7 comments

The Soundscapes of Ancient Cultures

Historically, archaeologists have largely ignored acoustical science as a tool for archaeological discovery. This is changing with the advent of acoustic archaeology. “Could the Maya have intentionally coded the sound of their sacred bird into the pyramid architecture? I think it is possible.Hear it for yourself in this video. While this is a pretty astounding feat of architectural engineering, it’s by no means the only example of archaeoacoustics that can be found at Chichen Itza, amongst the mayan people, or throughout the many other cultures who’ve built structures that integrate unique auditory phenomenon to stimulate the senses. [previously]/[previously] [more inside]
posted by nTeleKy on Nov 29, 2012 - 23 comments

LOLHEHHEHHELLLOOOOO, WORLD

10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10 (a collaborative book by Nick Montfort, Patsy Baudoin, John Bell, Ian Bogost (previously, previously, previously), Jeremy Douglass, Mark C. Marino, Michael Mateas (of Facade), Casey Reas, Mark Sample and Noah Vawter) uses a single line of code as a basis for pontificating on creative computing and the impact of software in popular culture. 10 PRINT's content is available as a PDF (50 MB). Pictures via Casey Reas' Flickr.
posted by mrgrimm on Nov 29, 2012 - 47 comments

We Expect Art To Suck

Artist Zak Smith addresses the problem of Big Art made by assistants for artists who don't claim to use assistants. good bit starts at 3:40
posted by The Whelk on Nov 28, 2012 - 40 comments

Imagine a frozen ocean

"Entering into one of the fiercest competitions in existence, I found art."
Sixteen mushers. 120 dogs. An adventure across one of the longest mushing trails in the world: the Beringia, a dog sled race stretching 683 miles across eastern Russia. Twilight on the Tundra [more inside]
posted by zarq on Nov 28, 2012 - 8 comments

Love of the Windy City

Take a tour of the Chicago Loop and discover its beautiful architecture.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Nov 27, 2012 - 30 comments

mmmmmmmm, forbidden donut

Entrepreneur Jia Jiang has decided to overcome his fear of rejection through a sort of exposure therapy desensitization: he's "seeking one rejection on purpose every day for 100 days" by making crazy requests of strangers, filming each encounter on his iPhone and posting them to his blog. Here's his attempt on Day 3 to order doughnuts shaped (and colored) like the Olympic rings at a Krispy Kreme in Austin, TX. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Nov 26, 2012 - 86 comments

I think I mentioned we also saw an actual knife fight in this same alley! With big giant meat cleavers!

Davesecretary of TIME FOR SOME STORIES fame (previously) decided to spend a year in a smallish Chinese city to figure out what he wanted to do with his life. He slowly realizes that he's not having a very good time.
posted by The Whelk on Nov 21, 2012 - 87 comments

THR & The Blacklist

After 65 Years The Hollywood Reporter addresses its role in the hollywood blacklist, including an apology from W.R. Wilkerson III, son of THR founder Billy Wilkerson whose "A Vote For Joe Stalin" editorial named writers such as Dalton Trumbo, Lester Cole, Howard Koch and John Howard Lawson as communist sympathisers.
posted by Artw on Nov 21, 2012 - 8 comments

Confronting Irony

As a function of fear and pre-emptive shame, ironic living bespeaks cultural numbness, resignation and defeat. If life has become merely a clutter of kitsch objects, an endless series of sarcastic jokes and pop references, a competition to see who can care the least (or, at minimum, a performance of such a competition), it seems we’ve made a collective misstep. Could this be the cause of our emptiness and existential malaise? Or a symptom? - How to Live Without Irony
posted by beisny on Nov 18, 2012 - 161 comments

The Quiet Ones

"In a 2006 interview David Foster Wallace said, “it seems significant that we don’t want things to be quiet, ever, anymore.” Stores and restaurants have their ubiquitous Muzak or satellite radio; bars have anywhere between 1 and 17 TVs blaring Fox and soccer; ... Even some libraries, ... now have music and special segregated areas designated for “quiet study,” which is what a library used to be. ... People are louder, too. They complain at length and in detail about their divorces ... a foot away from you in restaurants. ... People practice rap lyrics on the bus or the subway, barking doggerel along with their iPods .... Respecting shared public space is becoming ... quaintly archaic .... philosopher Aaron James posits that people with this personality type are so infuriating ... because they refuse to recognize the moral reality of those around them." [previously]
posted by Jasper Friendly Bear on Nov 18, 2012 - 121 comments

Jenn Frank: "I was one of the guys. I was always one of the guys."

I Was A Teenage Sexist - "Girls – the ones we think of as “cool” – don’t trust other women, women who play by gender “rules” that the rest of us cannot quite understand. The most important things those women can seemingly do are spend money on clothes and appeal to the opposite sex. Meanwhile, we ourselves don’t feel particularly female. We only feel like people. It’s a tough fall. People intuitively detect that attitude, go out of their way to remind you that you’re not fooling anybody. You are a woman, and you will only ever be a woman." [more inside]
posted by flex on Nov 18, 2012 - 83 comments

Žižuku seems simple, but in fact it is supremely complicated.

Let’s play Žižuku! Vaguely similar in theory to the Postmodern Text Generator, but practiced individually, rather than Markov-chain-generated text. The creator, Julian Baggini, describes Žižuku thus: "The rules are simple: pick on any widely received idea and find the most clever-sounding way to invert it, so as to create a paradox, or at least the semblance of one." [more inside]
posted by exlotuseater on Nov 17, 2012 - 21 comments

Geek Tragedy

Geek Masculinity and the Myth of the Fake Geek Girl - why we get things like the "Imposter" ad and the Tony Harris rant.
posted by Artw on Nov 15, 2012 - 259 comments

Ancient Fears: The Return of the Flood Saga

"The word reclaim came up more than once to describe the rising tide. It is a revealing word, more narrative than simply descriptive: it hints at some larger backstory, some plot twist in a longer saga about our claims and the water’s counterclaims to the earth.… This story was already ancient when it was adapted for the biblical text—which is to say, it records a very old fear. Like all old fears, it has the uncanny feel of a vivid memory. It may be a memory of an actual flood in an actual Sumerian city, Shurrupal, ca 2800 B.C.E. In fact, it may be even older than that."
posted by the mad poster! on Nov 13, 2012 - 21 comments

Brasil profundo

A treasure trove of Brazil from the conflict between Natives and farmers to Music inspired by the bandit Lampião.
Discover writers (with a metafilter hat tip); Scary Lullabies e muito mais.
posted by adamvasco on Nov 10, 2012 - 5 comments

No Doubt piss of Native Americans

No Doubt (mostly Gwen) are certainly not new to the world of pissing people off by appropriating their culture. Now Native Americans have taken issue with No Doubt's latest video, the band has apologized and pulled the offending clip. Native American writers such as Lisa Charleyboy lay out their issues with the depiction.
posted by Cosine on Nov 6, 2012 - 104 comments

"First freedom and then Glory - when that fails, Wealth, vice, corruption - barbarism at last"

Savagery - Arcadia - Consummation - Destruction - Desolation. The five stages of The Course of Empire, a fascinating quintet of paintings by 19th century artist and Hudson River School pioneer Thomas Cole. In it, an imaginary settlement by the sea becomes the stage for all the dreams and nightmares of civilized life, a rural woodland grown in time into a glorious metropolis... only to be ransacked by corruption, war, and a terrible storm, at last reduced to a forgotten ruin. At times deceptively simple, each landscape teems with references to cultural and philosophical markers that dominated the era's debate about the future of America. Interactive analysis of the series on a zoomable canvas is available via the excellent Explore Thomas Cole project, which also offers a guided tour and complete gallery of the dozens of other richly detailed and beautifully luminous works by this master of American landscape art.
posted by Rhaomi on Oct 29, 2012 - 23 comments

You mean they sat on the platform with you?

In the spirit of the Nobel season, Yasha Levine discusses the history of the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel as a PR gimmick for laissez-faire economics, and how its existence is an affront to the Nobel legacy.
posted by clarknova on Oct 26, 2012 - 26 comments

"When the lights go out for good, my people will still be here. We have our ancient ways. We will remain."

In the Shadow of Wounded Knee. Along the southwestern border of South Dakota is one of the most poverty-stricken places in the United States—the Pine Ridge Reservation, home of the Oglala Lakota people. After 150 years of broken promises, they are still nurturing their tribal customs, language and beliefs. Via [more inside]
posted by zarq on Oct 25, 2012 - 32 comments

Standing On The Shoulders of Giants

Holt’s philosophers belong to the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Compared with the giants of the past, they are a sorry bunch of dwarfs. They are thinking deep thoughts and giving scholarly lectures to academic audiences, but hardly anybody in the world outside is listening. They are historically insignificant. At some time toward the end of the nineteenth century, philosophers faded from public life. Like the snark in Lewis Carroll’s poem, they suddenly and silently vanished. So far as the general public was concerned, philosophers became invisible. [more inside]
posted by jason's_planet on Oct 21, 2012 - 130 comments

"I would not choose to be any one else, or any place else."

"Look, goddamn it, I’m homosexual, and most of my friends are Jewish homosexuals, and some of my best friends are black homosexuals, and I am sick and tired of reading and hearing such goddamn demeaning, degrading bullshit about me and my friends." - Merle Miller.
In 1970, two years after Stonewall, Joseph Epstein wrote a cover story for Harper’s Magazine, Homo/hetero: The struggle for sexual identity, that came to chilling conclusions: "I would wish homosexuality off the face of this earth." His incendiary language prompted author/journalist/writer Merle Miller to come out of the closet in the New York Times Magazine, with an angry and poignant plea for dignity, understanding and respect: "What It Means to Be a Homosexual." 40 years later, that essay helped inspire the launch of the "It Gets Better" campaign. Via [more inside]
posted by zarq on Oct 17, 2012 - 62 comments

Factory Girls

Cultural technology and the making of K-pop
posted by beisny on Oct 14, 2012 - 23 comments

Something like Anglophilia

My Life as a Girl - Why Stephen Burt likes dressing up as a woman.
posted by Artw on Oct 13, 2012 - 54 comments

Searching for Iran’s lost funk

"...it should be made clear that Tehran in the ’70s was not an equivalent to New Orleans, Chicago or Detroit. There was no funk haven per se, but within the Iranian pop world some tracks did appear, and those records are a rare treasure trove for funk aficionados." — Searching for Iran’s lost funk [more inside]
posted by furtive on Oct 11, 2012 - 7 comments

Ephemeral New York

Ephemeral New York 'chronicles an ever-changing, constantly reinvented city through photos, newspaper archives, and other scraps and artifacts that have been edged into New York’s collective remainder bin.' [more inside]
posted by zarq on Oct 11, 2012 - 5 comments

Songs in the key of H

Iain M. Banks, Alastair Reynolds, and Peter F. Hamilton discuss their books with fans (video). The Hydrogen Sonata, the 10th of Bank's Culture books, will be released October 12th, read the first chapter here. Meanwhile it's 20 years since Reynolds first started work on Revelation Space.
posted by Artw on Oct 7, 2012 - 94 comments

Makers

In February, PBS and AOL launched Makers, a video archive containing personal stories and anecdotes told in the first person by women, many of whom have sparked groundbreaking changes in American culture. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Oct 4, 2012 - 3 comments

27.5 years of gameplay

A study-based analysis of UK gaming magazines in the 1980s and 90s argues that the analysis of computer games, independent of attributes such as the platform or narrative, becomes more evident after March 1985 when the term 'gameplay' begins to be used in this media.
posted by Wordshore on Oct 3, 2012 - 10 comments

epistolary novel

Clay Shirky: How the Internet will (one day) transform government [1,2,3] [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Sep 26, 2012 - 46 comments

Why do you think it's called a "cold"?

An opinion column: Why do Russians hate ice? (SLNYT)
posted by Nomyte on Sep 25, 2012 - 81 comments

Border crossings and shifts

Who Draws The Borders Of Culture?(NYTimes) Cultural border, as opposed to national borders, are funny things. One country can contain many (Coke vs. Soda. Vs. Pop, previously and previously-er). Cultural borders often appear as food and drink choices, like sweet tea, forms of alcohol, or BBQ sauce. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Sep 24, 2012 - 61 comments

Leaving Moscow

Julia Ioffe - What I Will (and Won't) Miss About Living in Moscow
posted by beisny on Sep 24, 2012 - 34 comments

It's a Different Nick Cave

Nick Cave's Soundsuits: Calling up echoes of wild beasts, Carnival dancers, maskers and shamans, the "soundsuits" made of a wild diversity of materials by visual artist and dancer Nick Cave have life beyond the gallery. They're designed to be used in performances and 'invasions,' creating a sense of mystery, playfulness and joyful moments of community.
posted by Miko on Sep 21, 2012 - 15 comments

The Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History

The Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History uses the Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection as the starting point for a deeply informative, chronologically arranged exploration of world art history, with maps, timelines, art images, thematic essays, and more.
posted by Miko on Sep 19, 2012 - 7 comments

"If you’re not getting it wrong really a lot when you’re creating imaginary futures, then you’re just not doing it enough."

Wired talks to William Gibson: on Why Sci-Fi Writers Are (Thankfully) Almost Always Wrong, on Twitter, Antique Watches and Internet Obsessions, and and on Punk Rock, Internet Memes, and ‘Gangnam Style’.
posted by Artw on Sep 15, 2012 - 55 comments

Who's More Full of Shit?

Who's More Full of Shit? Aggregates Politifact ratings and identifies which politicians, pundits and media figures lie most often. [via mefi projects]
posted by JHarris on Sep 14, 2012 - 33 comments

Metafilter: Part of a healthy breakfast

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) thinks that new school lunch standards derived from the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act equal rationing. His constituents' kids are "starving," says the congressman. But the HHFKA actually expanded access to school breakfast and lunch programs and improved school nutritional guidelines. Is this a nanny state, or a culture war? [more inside]
posted by bitter-girl.com on Sep 9, 2012 - 74 comments

Site Seeing

Wiki Loves Monuments: "World's largest photo contest" seeks to create a visual record of world monuments and historic sites on the Wikimedia Commons. The USA version focuses on sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Canadian version here. If you don't see your country among the 30 participating so far, you can volunteer!
posted by Miko on Sep 7, 2012 - 7 comments

Design is first and foremost a philosophy, a system of values

This is a big deal because one of the main ways that people are socialized is through using, observing and contemplating material objects. The idea that people learn their places in society by engaging with the physical stuff around them has a long history in anthropology, but it was finally cemented into the theoretical mainstream in 1972 when Pierre Bourdieu published his Outline of a Theory of Practice. Bourdieu makes the case that we come to internalize the expectations of our particular social group by analogy with categories, orders and relations of things. Spatial arrangements of objects in the home, for example, or the use of different farming tools at different times of year, come to stand for intangible relationships between genders, social strata and the like, thereby anchoring abstract ideas about social organization to the physical world. ~ Designing Culture by Colin McSwiggen
posted by infini on Sep 7, 2012 - 22 comments

use value vs. exchange value

What Is Value? What Is Money? (via via) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Sep 1, 2012 - 15 comments

John Barnes hates snark

Snark is the universal solvent of cultural conversation. Someone mentions Hemingway; you mention cross-dressing, drinking, and short choppy sentences. Not only did you not have to read Hemingway, you have one-upped the other person by not having read it; you know more about it than they do because you know the important thing, that Hemingway doesn't need to be read. Star Wars has a plot straight out of a comic book, the indescribable beauty of an athlete's best moment is just ritualized combat, any given religion is a collection of three or fewer especially silly-sounding superstitions, all academic subjects are useless hazing intended to keep the wrong people from being hired, all peace protestors are just trying to get on television and soldiers are all unemployed hillbillies whose masculinity feels threatened so they've enlisted for a chance to commit war crimes. Occupy Wall Street is rebels without a clue (itself a plagiarized phrase), the Tea Party is scared old people, and nothing in the wide world matters compared to the general wonderfulness of the observer. [Some 3700 words from a science fiction writer deriding and analyzing the emptiness of snark as a rhetorical mode. Might need to click through Blogger's NSFW warning, though it's just text.]
posted by cgc373 on Aug 31, 2012 - 114 comments

Commentary and thoughts on Honey Boo Boo

Don't judge Honey Boo Boo, because the tv show doesn't care what it's saying about American culture.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Aug 31, 2012 - 156 comments

"I went from God loves everybody to God saves everybody to God is in everybody."

From Bible-Belt Pastor to Atheist Leader. Jerry DeWitt is a former Pentecostal pastor in the evangelical parish of DeRidder, Louisiana who slowly lost his religious faith. Last Fall, he went public with his atheism, committing what he calls "identity suicide," and instantly becoming "the most disliked person in town." Since then, Mr. DeWitt's lost his job, his wife, his community and may be losing his house, but is still persevering and working to help others who find themselves in similar circumstances. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 27, 2012 - 163 comments

Fear and Loathing in Amundsen-Scott Station

Can't get enough Antarctic culture? [more inside]
posted by outlandishmarxist on Aug 24, 2012 - 40 comments

G B S

A girl upon the shore did ask a favour of the sea;
"Return my blue eyed sailor boy safely back to me.
Forgive me if I ask too much, I will not ask for more,
but I shall weep until he sleeps safe upon the shore."
For nearly 20 years, Newfoundland group Great Big Sea have been creating acoustic Celtic folk-rock covers and interpretations of traditional Newfoundland and Labrador sea shanties, folk, fishing and party songs, which draw from the island's rich 500-year-old multicultural (Irish, English, Scottish and French) heritage. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 23, 2012 - 49 comments

"Gypsy" is a racial slur.

The Romani people would like you to please stop using the word 'gypsy' now (or even wear 'gypsy' tattoos) as it is a racial slur connected to past and present persecution. This is not 'gypsy'; this is Romani. [more inside]
posted by divabat on Aug 19, 2012 - 216 comments

WE’RE YOUR BEST GIRLFRIEND AND YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE

Right now Baltimore, MD plays host to FemmeCon, a biannual gathering for those who "seek to explore, discuss, dissect, and support Queer Femme as a transgressive, gender-queer, stand-alone, and empowered identity and provide a space for organizing and activism within Queer communities". Some of the issues faced by queer femme culture include femme invisibility in larger queer culture, the lack of non-stereotypical role models, being classed 'femme' by default, dismissal as "too much", as well as intersectional issues of femme with race, gender, and disability. In the meantime, femme subcultures such as tomboy femme, hard femme, and FEMME SHARKS as well as femmes in specific regions come together for inspiration, expression, power, creativity and support from each other - as well as from appreciative butches.
posted by divabat on Aug 18, 2012 - 111 comments

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