Men in Saris: Mumbai's new lavani dancers Lavani is a folk dance, traditionally performed by women for men. The popularity of Bin Baykancha Tamasha (or Performance Without Women) and other female-impersonation groups in Mumbai suggests that the city may slowly be getting comfortable with flamboyant expressions of male sexuality.
Female porn stars, with and without their makeup It's a large bandwidth-intensive imgur gallery. (Via)
Liar Town Usa: An alternate USA where our products, signage, headlines, and fads are all slightly more surreal, sinister, and threatening.
Generation Gap: "The parents of China’s post-1980 generation [the bā líng hòu (八零後)] (themselves born between 1950 and 1965) grew up in a rural, Maoist world utterly different from that of their children. In their adolescence, there was one phone per village, the universities were closed and jobs were assigned from above. If you imagine the disorientation and confusion of many parents in the West when it comes to the internet and its role in their children’s lives, and then add to that dating, university life and career choices, you come close to the generational dilemma. Parents who spent their own early twenties labouring on remote farms have to deal with children who measure their world in malls, iPhones and casual dates." [more inside]
In Korea, Changes in Society and Family Dynamics Drive Rise in Elderly Suicides - "The epidemic is the counterpoint to the nation's runaway economic success, which has worn away at the Confucian social contract that formed the bedrock of Korean culture for centuries." [more inside]
A Contagion Of Violence
In exploring the occurrence of violence, researchers have recognized the tendency for violent acts to cluster, to spread from place to place, and to mutate from one type to another – similar to the infectious disease model, in which an agent or vector initiates a specific biological pathway leading to symptoms of disease and infectivity.Is It Time To Treat Violence Like A Contagious Disease? [more inside]
Hungry? Meet Rocky and Mayur -- two likeable blokes who happen to host an Indian food/road show called "Highway On My Plate." Since 2005 they've been traveling around the country sampling the culinary delights of the subcontinent, and lately they've been visiting school and college cafeterias. Youtubery ahead! [more inside]
"Oh, Anne! With your small head and pert nose and oversized, ready smile and glossy pixie cut and squeakily tuneful speaking voice, uttering lines like “It came true!” as you gaze at your newly won Oscar with moistened doe-eyes, wearing a powder-pink Prada gown adorned with diamonds and bows: Why are you so annoying?"
"Its not like we all sat in silence and stared blankly at our TVs waiting for the Internet to show up. We have probably always had vernacular webs of communication." Digital studies scholar Robert Glenn Howard talks about vaccines, the Christian right [PDF], AC/DC guitar tutorials and other "born-digital folklore" on the "vernacular web."
The Everyday Sexism Project collects user-submitted reports from women to document their day-to-day experiences with normalized sexism, including sexual harassment and job discrimination. Entries can be submitted at the site, in an email to founder Laura Bates or to their twitter account. [more inside]
Donald Richie, American author, journalist, critic and expert on Japan, dies at 88.
Smilingly excluded here in Japan, politely stigmatised, I can from my angle attempt only objectivity, since my subjective self will not fit the space I am allotted . . . how fortunate I am to occupy this niche with its lateral view. In America I would be denied this place. I would live on the flat surface of a plain. In Japan, from where I am sitting, the light falls just right – I can see the peaks and valleys, the crags and crevasses.
-- from The Japan Journals, 1947-2004[more inside]
Romancing the drone: how America's flying robots are invading pop culture. Both real and unreal, drones are spreading silently through art and culture.
I told them to take a hike. I can't work where feminism is not celebrated. I'm proud to call myself a feminist. - Pastor and playwright Kristine Holmgren responds to being asked not use the word feminism in the title of her blog on a faith based site.
"The stubby (or steinie) in many ways embodied all that was solid and stoic in the Canadian character. Think of the two adjectives most appropriately applied to it - "tough" and "squat" - and what it also brings to mind are the great goalies of that era, those stalwart unbreakable warriors who worked between the pipes." - Ian Coutts Brew North. [more inside]
The Old Man at Burning Man. "When I mentioned to friends that I was going to Burning Man with my 69-year-old father, 'Good idea' were the words out of no one's mouth."
"This is what cultured people are like. In order to be cultured and not to stand below the level of your surroundings it is not enough to have read “The Pickwick Papers” and learnt a monologue from “Faust.” … What is needed is constant work, day and night, constant reading, study, will…. Every hour is precious for it…. Come to us, smash the vodka bottle, lie down and read…. Turgenev, if you like, whom you have not read. You must drop your vanity, you are not a child … you will soon be thirty. It is time! I expect you…. We all expect you." - Anton Chekhov on the 8 Qualities of Cultured People, in a letter to his older brother Nikolai
Over a thousand monks and laymen are revered in Tibetan Buddhism as the incarnations of past teachers who convey enlightenment to their followers from one lifetime to the next. Some of the most respected are known by the honorific "rinpoche." For eight centuries, rinpoches were traditionally identified by other monks and then locked inside monasteries ringed by mountains, far from worldly distractions. Their reincarnation lineages were easily tracked across successive lives. Then the Chinese Red Army invaded Tibet in 1950 and drove the religion's adherents into exile. Now, the younger rinpoches of the Tibetan diaspora are being exposed to all of the twenty-first century’s dazzling temptations. So, even as Tibetan Buddhism is gaining more followers around the world, an increasing number of rinpoches are abandoning their monastic vows. Reincarnation in Exile. [more inside]
It is June 2, 2010 and Mark Zuckerberg is sweating. He’s wearing his hoodie—he’s always wearing his hoodie—and he’s on stage and either the lights or the questions are too hot. … “Do you want to take off the hoodie?” asks Kara Swisher.The varied cultural resonances of an unassuming garment.
“I never take off the hoodie.”
"Almost a decade since the end of the hit American TV series Friends, the show — and, in particular, the fictitious Central Perk cafe, where much of the action took place — is enjoying an afterlife in China's capital, Beijing. Here, the show that chronicled the exploits of New York City pals Rachel, Ross, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe and Joey is almost seen as a lifestyle guide."
"Most American high schools are almost sadistically unhealthy places to send adolescents." Does the "worst of adult America looks like high school because it’s populated by people who went to high school in America?" [more inside]
The New York Times asks seven 'experts': Does makeup ultimately damage a woman’s self-esteem, or elevate it? [more inside]
"The new constitution 'recognizes the role of Christianity in preserving nationhood,' and art that is deemed blasphemous or 'anti-national' is now the target of a full-blown campaign of suppression."
Every minute a new impossible thing is uploaded to the internet and that improbable event becomes just one of hundreds of extraordinary events that we'll see or hear about today. The internet is like a lens which focuses the extraordinary into a beam, and that beam has become our illumination
January 13, 2013 marks the 125th anniversary of the National Geographic Society. The Magazine is celebrating by taking a yearlong look at the past and future of exploration. [more inside]
The five scholars explored the question, “What is the meaning of food?” and debated its role in ethnic and religious tensions. They also examined the possibility that “food, which is something that all of us share, albeit in different ways, can be used to bring people together instead of differentiating between us.” According to Goldstein, one of the most important ideas to come out of the group was that food is a social process rather than a commodity and thus is central to multicultural understanding: “[Food] has to do with how we live and it’s not just an object that we ingest.” Food: History & Culture in the West [PDF], was a 2010 UC Berkley Symposium exploring multiple links between food and culture: [more inside]
The Value of Culture is a five part BBC radio series by Melvyn Bragg (which can be downloaded as a podcast) which explores the modern concept of 'culture' from its roots in mid-19th Century Britain, specifically Matthew Arnold's Culture and Anarchy and Edward Burnett Tylor's Primitive Culture (vol. 2), and exploring the discourse and uses of the concept until the present day. There are five episodes, each a little over forty minutes long, focusing in turn on Arnold and the roots of the concept of culture, Tylor and the anthropological conception of culture, C. P. Snow and the 'Two Cultures' debate, mass culture and culture studies, and then ending with a debate on the value of culture today.
"If you account for my access to academic journal subscriptions, my salary is really like half a million dollars."
This past Thursday, Forbes Magazine published a pair of articles: The Most Stressful Jobs of 2013 and The Least Stressful Jobs of 2013, the latter of which began with the sentence: "University professors have a lot less stress than most of us." 300+ outraged comments (and thousands of sarcastic #RealForbesProfessor tweets,) later they've added a retraction, and linked to a blog post that takes A Real Look at Being a Professor in the US. [more inside]
"it's quite clear that there's tons of cultural transmission that's just strictly by observational learning."
What Could Have Entered the Public Domain on January 1, 2013?:'Under the law that existed until 1978 … Works from 1956.' Yesterday was Public Domain Day, with many works entering the public domain, depending on jurisdiction. [more inside]
The Secret Lives of Readers Books reveal themselves. Whether they exist as print or pixels, they can be read and examined and made to spill their secrets. Readers are far more elusive. They leave traces—a note in the margin, a stain on the binding—but those hints of human handling tell us only so much. The experience of reading vanishes with the reader. How do we recover the reading experiences of the past? Lately scholars have stepped up the hunt for evidence of how people over time have interacted with books, newspapers, and other printed material.
Historically, the city states of the Malay Peninsula often paid tribute to regional kingdoms such as those of China and Siam. Closer relations with China were established in the early 15th century during the reign of Parameswara, founder of Melaka, when Admiral Zheng He (Cheng Ho) sailed through the Straits of Malacca. Impressed by the tribute, the Yongle Emperor of China is said to have presented Princess Hang Li Po* as a gift to Mansur Shah, then Sultan of Malacca (+/-1459 AD). Tradition claims the courtiers and servants who accompanied the princess settled in Bukit Cina, intermarried with the locals and grew into a community known as the Peranakan. Colloquially known as Baba-Nyonya, the Peranakan or Straits Chinese, they retained many of their ethnic and religious customs, but assimilated the language and clothing of the Malays. They developed a unique culture and distinct foods. Nyonya cuisine is one of the most highly rated in the South East Asian region, considered some of the most difficult to master but very easy to love and enjoy.
The most-watched show in the history of the National Geographic Channel isn't Wild, Taboo or even the longest-running documentary series on cable tv: Explorer. It's Doomsday Preppers, a show that documents the "lives of otherwise ordinary Americans" as they prepare for the end of the world. [more inside]
Tweedland has some interesting stories and characters. Here's two to get you started:
Robert de Montesquiou - "Tall, black-haired, rouged, Kaiser-moustached, he cackled and screamed in weird attitudes, giggling in high soprano, hiding his little black teeth behind an exquisitely gloved hand – the poseur absolute. He was said to have slept with Sarah Bernhardt and vomited for a week afterwards."
Lord Berners - "As a child, having heard that if you throw a dog into water it will learn how to swim, he threw his mother's canine companion out of the window on the grounds that if one applies the same logic it should learn how to fly. (The dog was unharmed, and he was "thrashed" by his mother.)"
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)
"...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]
“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]
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]
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.
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
"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]
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]
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.
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.
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