Act 1, scene 1.
"The stage directions read, “Vienna. The Ringstrasse promenade at Sirk Corner. Flags wave from the buildings. Soldiers marching by are cheered by the onlookers. General excitement. The crowd breaks up into small groups.” The newsboys with their “Extra Extra,” announcing the outbreak of war, are interrupted by a drunk demonstrator who shouts “Down with Serbia! Hurrah for the Hapsburgs! Hurrah! For S-e-r-bia!” and is immediately kicked in the pants for his mistake (LTM, p. 69). A crook and a prostitute exchange insults, even as two army contractors, talking of possible bribes the rich will use to avoid the draft, cite Bismarck’s words, in Neue Freie Presse (Vienna’s major newspaper at the time of the assassination of the archduke in Serbia), to the effect that the Austrians deserve kissing. One officer tells another that war is “unanwendbar” (of no use) when he really means, as his friend points out, “unabwendbar” (unavoidable) (LTM, pp. 70–71). A patriotic citizen praises the coming conflict as a holy war of defense against “encirclement” by hostile forces, and the crowd responds by making up rhymes (in Viennese dialect) denigrating the enemy (LTM, p. 72)." [more inside]
posted by whyareyouatriangle
on Jun 10, 2014 -
Throughout the last three decades, Wael Hallaq has emerged as one of the leading scholars of Islamic law in Western academia. He has made major contributions
not only to the study of the theory and practice of Islamic law, but to the development of a methodology through which Islamic scholars have been able to confront challenges facing the Islamic legal tradition. Hallaq is thus uniquely placed to address broader questions concerning the moral and intellectual foundations of competing modern projects. With his most recent work, The Impossible State, Hallaq lays bare the power dynamics and political processes at the root of phenomena that are otherwise often examined purely through the lens of the legal. In this interview, the first of a two-part series with him, Hallaq expands upon some of the implications of those arguments and the challenges they pose for the future of intellectual engagements across various traditions. In particular, he addresses the failure of Western intellectuals to engage with scholars in Islamic societies as well as the intellectual and structural challenges facing Muslim scholars. Hallaq also critiques the underlying hegemonic project of Western liberalism and the uncritical adoption of it by some Muslim thinkers. [more inside]
posted by whyareyouatriangle
on Jun 9, 2014 -
You may have heard how sounds travel farther during a temperature inversion
, when air near the ground is cooler than the air above. But do you know how this phenomenon is related to the 1947 UFO crash in Roswell, New Mexico? [more inside]
posted by mbrubeck
on Jun 8, 2014 -
On March 5th, the Associated Press asked: “What are seemingly jet-propelled cats and birds doing in a 16th century German artillery manual?”
It was a good question. [...]
European History People sent burning pigs stampeding toward their neighbors regularly and would put a rooster on trial for real actually with a lawyer and everything if someone said it laid an egg without a yolk. If someone like that was soberly strapping a rocket to a cat and you interrupted them in their cat-to-rocket-strapping-room they’d look up like “Yeah?” and they would have this big pinky white person expression on their face like it wasn’t even a little bit weird. [more inside]
posted by 23
on Jun 6, 2014 -
My Mom's Motorcycle
"This is a short film about how my mom became the owner of a motorcycle ... more deeply it is about how people use objects to connect with times, ideas, and people."
posted by pwally
on Jun 4, 2014 -
In 2003, Andy "waxpancake" Baio created Upcoming
, "a collaborative event calendar focused on interesting arts and tech events around the world, curated by its community. It surfaced weird and wonderful events that usually fell under the radar of traditional event listings from newspapers and local weeklies." In 2005, it was acquired by Yahoo!, who killed the site last April with little warning, and no way to back up events
. Fortunately, the complete site was saved
by the Internet Archive
. But Upcoming isn't dead yet! Two months ago, Yahoo! offered to sell the domain back to Baio. And now, with a fully-funded kickstarter
, he's planning on "rebuilding it for the modern era using tools and platforms that weren't available when it was first designed." Welcome to the brilliant life, stupid death, and improbable return of Upcoming.org. [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Jun 3, 2014 -
The enigma of Mona Lisa's smile? Who cares? The mystery of Dido Belle is much more intriguing. The double portrait Dido Elizabeth Belle and Lady Elizabeth Murray, once attributed to Johann Zoffany and now hanging in Scone Palace in Perth, depicts two elegant 18th-century women in silks and pearls at Kenwood House in London. Beyond them, you can just glimpse St Paul's and the rest of the Georgian cityscape. Nothing unusual about any of that, but for one detail – Dido is mixed race.
Belle is about slavery and follows on the heels of Steve McQueen's Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave. An impossible act to follow, you might suppose. Yet the two films could hardly be more different. "I wouldn't want audiences to come to Belle and think they were about to see '12 Years a Slave Mark 2'," Asante says. Based in Britain and rooted in fact, Belle is an extraordinary story, she tells me: Dido Elizabeth Belle (1761-1804) was the daughter of John Lindsay, a British admiral, and an African slave. She grew up in Kenwood House, Hampstead, under the guardianship of Lord Chief Justice Mansfield.
One delicately speculative Guardian article about a painting and its context leads to a fascinating portait of a Ghanaian/British filmmaker and the circumstances that formed her. Asante has always had an "extra eye" and sees herself as an insider and outsider (all directors, she believes, need to be emotionally ambidextrous).
posted by glasseyes
on May 28, 2014 -
To enforce his orders—and to make Arlington uninhabitable for the Lees—Meigs evicted officers from the mansion, installed a military chaplain and a loyal lieutenant to oversee cemetery operations, and proceeded with new burials, encircling Mrs. Lee's garden with the tombstones of prominent Union officers. The first of these was Capt. Albert H. Packard of the 31st Maine Infantry. Shot in the head during the Battle of the Second Wilderness, Packard had miraculously survived his journey from the Virginia front to Washington's Columbian College Hospital, only to die there. On May 17, 1864, he was laid to rest where Mary Lee had enjoyed reading in warm weather, surrounded by the scent of honeysuckle and jasmine. By the end of 1864, some 40 officers' graves had joined his.
So what's more fitting after Memorial Weekend to read about than how the US government took over Robert E. Lee's very own mansion and turned it into the nation's foremost military cemetery to honour the Union's war death
posted by MartinWisse
on May 27, 2014 -
was an American late-night, half-hour political talk show hosted by Bill Maher that ran from 1993 to 2002, first on Comedy Central and then on ABC. Four guests (usually including at least one comedian) would debate topics across the political spectrum in what Maher once described as “The McLaughlin Group on acid.” Of the 1300+ episodes produced, 190 can be viewed on YouTube. [more inside]
posted by zarq
on May 23, 2014 -
"To celebrate freedom and democracy while forgetting America’s origins in a slavery economy is patriotism à la carte." Slavery, Jim Crow, and segregation both de jure
and de facto
--Ta-Nehisi Coates on The Case for Reparations
posted by ilicet
on May 21, 2014 -
The song "Turkey In The Straw" is one known to millions of Americans as well as many, many others around the world. Here's a National Public Radio article
that shines some light on the virulently racist lyrics that attended that familiar old melody in its earlier incarnation. WARNING: Do not go to the link if you wish to avoid racist imagery and slurs.
posted by flapjax at midnite
on May 14, 2014 -
On Sept. 13, 1848, at around 4:30 p.m., the time of day when the mind might start wandering, a railroad foreman named Phineas Gage filled a drill hole with gunpowder and turned his head to check on his men. It was the last normal moment of his life. Other victims in the annals of medicine are almost always referred to by initials or pseudonyms. Not Gage: His is the most famous name in neuroscience. How ironic, then, that we know so little else about the man—and that much of what we think we know, especially about his life unraveling after his accident, is probably bunk.
—Phineas Gage, Neuroscience’s Most Famous Patient
by Sam Kean.
posted by Kattullus
on May 13, 2014 -
In seven minutes, you can see the evolution of London, as seen in its road network
, from the Roman port city of Londonium
through the Anglo-Saxon
, Early Georgian
and Late Georgian
, Early Victorian
and Late Victorian
, Early 20th Century
and Postwar London
, set to the scale of the 600 square miles of modern London, though the original city core is a very dense square mile. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief
on May 10, 2014 -
In March 1910, Chicago’s city council ran with that idea, debating an ordinance that would ban hatpins longer than nine inches; any woman caught in violation would be arrested and fined $50. The proceedings were packed with curious spectators, men and women, and acrimonious from the start. “If women care to wear carrots and roosters on their heads, that is a matter for their own concern, but when it comes to wearing swords they must be stopped,”
a supporter said. Cries of “Bravo!” from the men; hisses from the women. Nan Davis, there to represent several women’s clubs, asked for permission to address the committee. “If the men of Chicago want to take the hatpins away from us, let them make the streets safe,” she said. “No man has a right to tell me how I shall dress and what I shall wear.” [more inside]
posted by JujuB
on May 8, 2014 -
Today is the 150th birthday of Elizabeth Jane Seaman, née Cochran -- best known by her pen name Nellie Bly
. She is perhaps most famous for her re-creation of Jules Verne's epic Around the World in 80 Days
, but this real-life Phileas Fogg did it in a record-breaking 72 days, 6 hours, and 11 minutes, and wrote a book
about her adventure. She was a pioneering investigative journalist, brave enough to get herself committed to an insane asylum to expose its practices, which resulted in the book Ten Days in a Mad-House
. As she wrote, "I was too impatient to work at the usual duties assigned women on newspapers." [more inside]
posted by Celsius1414
on May 5, 2014 -
Pastplay: Teaching and Learning History with Technology.
The fourth book from the digitalculturebooks
imprint of the University of Michigan Press, Pastplay
includes a wide range of essays, all available online
for free. T. Mills Kelly reflects on his historical methods course which resulted in a historical hoax, “the last American pirate,” declared one of the 10 biggest hoaxes in Wikipedia’s first ten years. Matthew Kirschenbaum discusses if board games work better than computer games for teaching history. The book's chapters cover successful combinations of play, technology, and history. Yet, many are wary, as a "playful approach to teaching and learning with technology can seem like the worst of all possible worlds: the coupling of strategies developed for entertainment with tools created for commerce." [more inside]
posted by spamandkimchi
on May 4, 2014 -
"Nobody would believe how difficult it is to be the mother of a Wunderkind. Everything I do is wrong; everything the child does is “for effect”; everything we say is utterly untrue. If Vivien runs up to me and kisses me, I hear it murmured that she is trained to do so. (“Whipped to be affectionate in public!”) So I tell her never to do it again. Immediately people remark how cold I am to the child; how the poor little creature evidently fears me and prefers Fräulein Muller.
We take her with her hoop and skipping-rope to play in the park? It is said we make her pretend to be infantine, force her to act the “happy child” when people are looking on! So we take her toys from her and conduct her for prim walks between us. “Poor little unnatural creature!” say our friends: “she has no child-life at all.”
The Devourer and the Devoured
is a long essay by Emily Hogstad
about the intertwined lives of the novelist Annie Vivanti and her daughter Vivien Chartres, a world-famous violin prodigy, at the beginning of the twentieth century.
posted by escabeche
on Apr 29, 2014 -
The American Museum of Natural History will unlock thousands of old photos from their vault, they announced this week. The new online image database (officially launching on Monday the 28th) will take you behind the curtain, delivering images that span the 145-year history of the Museum. The collection features over 7,000 images—many never before seen by the public—and includes photos, rare book illustrations, drawings, notes, letters, art, and Museum memorabilia. They say "it’s like stepping into a time machine and seeing a long ago NYC or just catching glimpses of ghosts from a forgotten world now seen only by researchers and Museum staff." Previously
. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye
on Apr 24, 2014 -
The 1998 hit "The Way" by Fastball
was based on the real-life disappearance of an elderly couple in Texas
: The song’s lyrics -- about an elderly couple who disappears from their home, finding immortality on the road -- seem sweet. That is, until "shadows" on the highway are referenced. The promises that the unnamed couple will never go home, grow old, or be hungry again seem a great deal less reassuring. Perhaps, the listener thinks, the "immortality" they found on the open road is purely allegorical.
posted by Cash4Lead
on Apr 24, 2014 -
The Root's ?uestlove on the invisibilizing of Black culture...
"...you can point to this as proof of hip-hop’s success. The concept travels. But where has it traveled? The danger is that it has drifted into oblivion. The music originally evolved to paint portraits of real people and handle real problems at close range — social contract, anyone? — but these days, hip-hop mainly rearranges symbolic freight on the black starliner. Containers on the container ship are taken from here to there — and never mind the fact that they may be empty containers. Keep on pushin’ and all that, but what are you pushing against?" [more inside]
posted by artof.mulata
on Apr 23, 2014 -