Shortly after the Civil War, an ex-slave was asked by his master to return to the plantation. He dictated a reply that would have made Mark Twain proud, and which has been previously featured on Metafilter. In fact, the letter was so good that some folks began to question whether it was real. New research shows it was, and gives details about the lives of the master and slave.
Scissors or Sword? The Symbolism of a Medieval Haircut:
"Simon Coates explores the symbolic meanings attached to hair in the early medieval West, and how it served to denote differences in age, sex, ethnicity and status."
"HH [Henry Hauser]: Ryan and Nina are right on target. The Ray-Dave sibling rivalry sparked many of The Kinks' most spontaneous (and brilliant) musical moments. The Storyteller, Ray's riveting account of early life in the Davies household and his band’s rise to prominence, has him describing how he and Dave exchanged scornful looks while recording "You Really Got Me". The elder Davies swears that if you listen closely, you can actually hear Dave yelling "Fuckkkoffff" right before his guitar solo. Ray salvaged the track by covering up Dave's profane exclamation with his own unscripted outburst ("Owwwww noooooo!"), and the impromptu rock scream turned into one of the most memorable quirks in Kinks history. It perfectly captures the animalistic agony that accompanies hopeless infatuation. Without the Ray-Dave rivalry, it would never have happened."
Henry Hauser, Ryan Bray, Nina Corcoran, and Stevie Dunbar at Consequence of Sound hold a round-table discussion in "Dusting 'Em Off: The Kinks – The Kinks". [more inside]
Henry Hauser, Ryan Bray, Nina Corcoran, and Stevie Dunbar at Consequence of Sound hold a round-table discussion in "Dusting 'Em Off: The Kinks – The Kinks". [more inside]
It's said that even a century and a half after Montaigne's death, when the marquis d'Argenson subtitled a book with that word, Essays, he was shouted down for impertinence. Not a context in which many people would find themselves tempted to self-identify as "essayists." When the French do finally start using the word, in the early nineteenth century, it's solely in reference to English writers who've taken up the banner, and more specifically to those who write for magazines and newspapers. "The authors of periodical essays," wrote a French critic in 1834, "or as they're commonly known, essayists, represent in English letters a class every bit as distinct as the Novellieri in Italy." A curiosity, then: the essay is French, but essayists are English. What can it mean?—The Ill-defined Plot is an essay about the history of essays by John Jeremiah Sullivan.
Abdel Kader Haidara awarded Germany's 2014 Africa Prize for rescuing Timbuktu manuscripts. Under his direction centuries' worth of texts were smuggled out when the city was taken by book-burning religious conservatives in 2012. The collection is currently in Mali's capital Bamako where it is being preserved and digitized. More text, slideshow, video, previously previously previously [more inside]
Heidegger in Black. The King is Dead: Heidegger's Black Notebooks. Heidegger's Black Notebooks: Extreme Silencing. Release of Heidegger’s ‘Black Notebooks’ Reignites Debate Over Nazi Ideology. Is Heidegger Contaminated by Nazism?
Alison Atkin is a Ph.D. student in osteoarchaeology at the University of Sheffield, studying plague cemeteries. Her research is presented in this quirky, hand-drawn poster. Don't miss GIFs of the interactive panels at her blog, Deathsplanation.
"Midway through the Confessions, St. Augustine recalls how he used to marvel at the way Ambrose, the bishop of Milan, read his manuscripts: 'His eyes traveled across the pages and his heart searched out the meaning, but his voice and tongue stayed still.' Scholars have sparred for decades over whether Augustine's offhand observation reveals something momentous: namely, that silent reading—that seemingly mundane act you're engaged in right now—was, in the Dark Ages, a genuine novelty...Could the earliest readers literally not shut up?"
"Pride", a critically-acclaimed new film given a limited release in the US today, tells the true story of how a small group of LGBT activists became the biggest fundraiser for the year-long British coal miner's strike of 1984-85. The miners faced a pre-meditated, organized, thuggish, dishonest, deceptive, and illegal surveillance and smear campaign by the Thatcher government, which froze all mining union funds, cancelled their unemployment, and denied food and housing welfare to their wives and children, in an attempt to starve them out. For the first time, the British government trained Britain's police into a paramilitary force, bused in at great expense and in great numbers to overwhelm the protesters, using violent, repressive, and corrupt tactics against non-violent protesters, with prolonged police detentions and the indiscriminate arrest of over 11,000 British citizens. The government was supported by the rightwing tabloid media, who used sensationalist, crude headlines to shape public opinion. LGBT activists reclaimed one such headline as the name of their most successful benefit. Although the miner's strike was broken by the Thatcher government, the miners kept their promise to support the LGBT community, by marching alongside them at the front of London's 1985's Pride parade.. Later that year at the Labour Party conference, a motion was tabled that supported adding equal rights for gays and lesbians as part of the Party's platform. This motion was opposed by Labour's executive committee, but the motion went to a vote – and passed, thanks to the votes of the National Union of Mineworkers and their allies.
The exhaustively researched Hollywood history podcast You Must Remember This (Previously) presents a two part episode focusing on Madonna's use of classic Hollywood imagery and references as a form of conceptual art and her early attempts to trade pop idol success for movie stardom within the context of two high-profile relationships with Sean Penn and Warren Beatty. Episode One. Episode Two. Meanwhile, Todd In The Shadows creates video reviews for every movie Madonna was ever in. So far he's done Desperately Seeking Susan, Shanghai Surprise, A Certain Sacrifice, and Who's That Girl.
In 1924 a consortium of lightbulb manufacturers formed the Phoebus cartel. Its goal: planned obsolescence. The Great Lightbulb Conspiracy. [more inside]
TedEd gets it wrong when they talk about the history of tattooing. Good thing the Tattoo Historian is here to set the record straight with a concise list of errors. [more inside]
The New York Review of Books recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of its founding (previously), growing out of an alliance between Harpers editor Robert Silvers and writer Elizabeth Hardwick to find a place for what she called "the unusual, the difficult, the lengthy, the intransigent, and above all, the interesting." Known as the New York Review or the NYRB, it is also known to fans as the best magazine in the world. Next Monday, HBO will air The 50-Year Argument, a documentary by Martin Scorsese about the history of the magazine and what makes it special. [more inside]
The story of Dr Zhivago’s publication is, like the novel itself, a cat’s cradle, an eternal zigzag of plotlines, coincidences, inconsistencies and maddening disappearances. The book was always destined to become a ‘succès de scandale’, in Berlin’s words, but the machinations and competing energies that went into seeing it into print, on the one hand, and trying to stop it going to print, on the other, make it the perfect synecdoche for that feint, counterfeint round of pugilism we call the Cold War.—The Writer and the Valet by Frances Stonor Saunders tells the story of Isaiah Berlin's part in publishing Boris Pasternak's novel Dr. Zhivago while Michael Scammell details the CIA's role.
"The du Maurier sisters had, from their volatile, crowded childhood onward, formed this private country they could slip in and out of, where "menaces" and "Venetian tendencies" could be freely discussed. In other words, they found a way to use games of pretend to tell the absolute truth." - Carrie Frye on author Daphne du Maurier and her seminal gothic novel, Rebecca.
Avast ye maties, it be Talk Like A Pirate Day! When ye be finished dressin up to get free donuts, take a look at this beauty of a link, where a man wonders 'bout the existence of black pirates!
The most feminist moments in sci-fi history -- from 1905 Indian feminist proto-sf to the rescue of Star Trek by female fans and beyond.
Have you ever wondered who owns the largest private collection of artifacts related to the Alamo? Well, wonder no more. The answer is vocal mega-creep and platinum-selling recording artist Phil Collins.
A new book by journalist Dana Goldstein profiles the deeply controversial history of the teaching profession in the US. A write up in the New York Times and the New Inquiry.
Ken Burns’ new film The Roosevelts is 14 hours long. Which hours should you watch? [vox.com]
Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns's latest PBS opus, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History. If you'd rather stream, the entirety of the miniseries will be available on PBS.com, PBS member sites, and various PBS digital platforms. (It leaves streaming Friday, Sept. 26, so hurry.) It will also be rerun frequently on PBS and comes out on DVD/BLURAY Tuesday. So that's a whole host of ways to watch. But should you? This sucker, like many of Burns's most famous films, including The Civil War, Baseball, and The War, is really, really long. It's seven installments, of roughly two hours each, so you'll be devoting around 14 hours of your life to this thing. If you really, really like the Roosevelts, that's great, because this is a terrific screen biography of the famous family. But what if you're more Roosevelt-curious?
If you have a good cat and you don't want to lose it, you must rub its nose and four legs with butter for three days, and it will never leave the house. [more inside]
Charlie Jane Anders investigates the Islamic roots of science fiction, including one of the earliest feminist science fiction novels. You may actually want to read the comments this once.
83 year old Chicano author John Rechy (City Of Night, The Sexual Outlaw, Rushes) talks to Lambda Literary about gay assimilation, being mistaken for white, melding truth and fiction, the post-Stonewall peroid, and hating the word 'queer.'
"Nowadays, we tend to eat biscuits with beverages like tea and coffee. But in the past they were an important element of the dessert course and were dipped into sweet wine." - Food History Jottings (previously) on the strange world of Regency biscuits. (Cookies to you US types.)
On December 10, 1810, in a muddy field around 25 miles from London, a fight took place that was so dramatic, controversial, and ferocious that it continues to haunt the imagination of boxing more than 200 years later.A long-form article in Grantland tells the story of freed American slave and boxer Tom Molineaux in England of the early 19th century.
A history of Minecraft. (slyt)
When you finally get a ship over to North America, you’ll notice that things look a little different. Europe is crammed cheek to jowl with minor duchies and single-province powers, at least in the early game. There is no square inch of territory unaccounted for. But when you get to the Americas, you’ll see a lot of “empty” territory. The provinces and territories that are not claimed by any power or nation can be colonized.April Daniels was thoroughly enjoying the ruthless imperialistic stylings of Europa Universalis IV, until the game took her out of Europe and into a somewhat problematic implementation of colonialism.
"In reconsidering the metrosexual, we must first distinguish between the metrosexual’s imagined and actual properties. Like hipsterism, metrosexuality is an insult more readily slung than substantiated. According to canon, David Beckham is the ur-metro. Although Beckham initially goes unmentioned in the word’s first printing (in 1994), the word’s progenitor, Mark Simpson, introduced American readers to metrosexuality through the British football star in 2002, when he called Beckham a "screaming, shrieking, flaming, freaking metrosexual…famous for wearing sarongs and pink nail polish and panties…and posing naked and oiled up on the cover of Esquire." " - Johannah King-Slutzky for The Awl on the 'Metrosexual' situation a decade later
In honour of Labour day, enjoy a documentary on Jewish anarchism at the turn of the 20th century, and the story of The Free Voice of Labour, their Yiddish newspaper that ran from 1890-1977. [more inside]
How did something as loud as a bell—something which is experienced so much more often, and more powerfully, by hearing than by sight—become dumb?[more inside]
"But not doing things too disastrously is not some minimal achievement; it is a maximal achievement, rarely managed." Does it help to know history?
A timeline of diseases and vaccines [warning: graphic photo of cutaneous diphtheria at year 1975]. Categories are: diphtheria, measles, polio, smallpox, yellow fever, and 'others'. You can select one keyword to view only that subject's timeline. From the History of Vaccines website (about page | FAQ). Similar timelines at the same site for pioneers, science and society, and there's an En Español timeline, too. [more inside]
On this day one hundred years ago, Imperial German soldiers who had peacefully arrived in the Belgian city of Leuven (Fr: Louvain), having taken hostages and accepted the parole of its mayor on behalf of its citizens, without warning set fire to the city and massacred its inhabitants forever altering the city, its university's library, and the course of the war.
Belgian Judicial Report on the Sacking of Louvain in August 1914 The destruction and rebuilding of the Louvain Library: claim and counterclaim
This fall, the South Dakota Historical Society Press will publish Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder - apparently full of "not-safe-for-children tales includ[ing] stark scenes of domestic abuse, love triangles gone awry and a man who lit himself on fire while drunk off whiskey" (or, more academically put, "full of the everyday sorts of things that we don't care to think about when we think about history"). They've been blogging the process of research, annotation, and publication at The Pioneer Girl Project, as well as stories about crabs, a new letter from Pa, really useful books, as well as photos and a series of interviews with the researchers involved via.
Mahmoud Darwish once wrote, of Gaza, “We are unfair to her when we search for her poems.” [more inside]
Shakespeare's Restless World is a BBC radio series (podcast link) where the director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, explores England during the lifetime of William Shakespeare as represented by twenty objects, much in the way of his earlier A History of the World in a 100 Objects (previously). The focus is on Shakespeare's plays and how they were understood by his contemporaries. The series was also published as a book.
On 16 April 1746, the Jacobite forces of Charles Edward Stuart fought loyalist troops commanded by William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. In 1964, Peter Watkins wrote and produced a docudrama for the BBC, from the perspective of a documentary crew on the ground, depicting the battle and its aftermath: Culloden. [1:12:14]
New analysis on Richard III's bones reveal the richer diet available to a king, as well as his drinking habits.
In 1924 the BBC transmitted its first live outside broadcast: a duet between cellist Beatrice Harrison and the nightingales nesting in the garden of her Surrey home. Capturing the song of the Nightingale. [more inside]
In Search at San Jose the R&D minds at IBM describe how they designed & built the world's first hard drive, the IBM 305 RAMAC (previously). First sold in 1956, it stored a whopping 5 million characters of information, all ready for immediate access to the user.
Íslandskort is a digital collection of historical maps of Iceland put online in high quality pdf-files and jpegs by the National Library of Iceland. Here are a few of my favorites: 1, 2, 3. You can either browse a timeline of all the maps or browse categories such as first maps of Iceland, Iceland on sea charts in the 17th and 18th centuries and other maps, which includes maps of Frisland (1, 2), a phantom island that bedeviled cartographers for centuries.
"Burkhard challenged Miller to a 'Cheese Duel': Burkhard and Miller would sit at a table, and if Burkhard could cut a piece of Limburger cheese and Miller not wretch, Miller would be forbidden from complaining about Wisconsin and her cheese ever again." [more inside]
Up, up and g'day: Superdoreen is Miss Galaxy 1982 A fascinating peek into Australian history and culture through a tiny sliver of artwork. [more inside]
I have one great party trick. Anytime someone asks me if I’ve ever come across something really cool while working in the Motion Picture Preservation Lab, I tell them about the time we had what looked like footage of a Boy Scout camp and then the Boy Scouts raised a Nazi flag along with the red, white, and blue.Audrey Amidon, of the (US) National Archives Motion Picture Preservation Lab, tells the story of that time they found 1937 film footage of an upstate New York nazi youth summer camp.