“Tsundoku,” the Japanese Word for the New Books That Pile Up on Our Shelves, Should Enter the English Language

≡ Category: History, Language Lessons, Writing |2 Comments

There are some words out there that are brilliantly evocative and at the same time impossible to fully translate. Yiddish has the word shlimazl, which basically means a perpetually unlucky person. German has the word Backpfeifengesicht, which roughly means a face that is badly in need of a fist.

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Take The Near Impossible Literacy Test Louisiana Used to Suppress the Black Vote (1964)

≡ Category: History, Politics |3 Comments

In William Faulkner’s 1938 novel The Unvanquished, the implacable Colonel Sartoris takes drastic action to stop the election of a black Republican candidate to office after the Civil War, destroying the ballots of black voters and shooting two Northern carpetbaggers.

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Stanley Kubrick Faked the Apollo 11 Moon Landing 45 Years Ago, Or So the Conspiracy Theory Goes

≡ Category: Film, History |Leave a Comment

This week is the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 journey to the moon. And while most people will celebrate the event by acknowledging the abilities and courage of Neil Armstrong and company in this landmark of human endeavor, a small, though vocal, group of people will decry the moon landing as a fraud.

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Wearable Books: In Medieval Times, They Took Old Manuscripts & Turned Them into Clothes

≡ Category: Design, History, Letters, Life |1 Comment

I like old newspaper, smoothing it out to read about what was happening on the day an older relative packed away the good crystal or some other fragile tchotchke.
Traveling in India, I dug how the snacks I purchased to eat on the train came wrapped in old book pages.

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Akira Kurosawa & Gabriel García Márquez Talk About Filmmaking (and Nuclear Bombs) in Six Hour Interview

≡ Category: Film, History, Literature |1 Comment

You know you’re doing something right in your life if the Nobel Prize-winning author of 100 Years of Solitude talks to you like a giddy fan boy.

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What Did Jane Austen Really Look Like? New Wax Sculpture, Created by Forensic Specialists, Shows Us

≡ Category: History, Literature |Leave a Comment

Last Wednesday, the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, England unveiled the wax sculpture above, which they say is the closest “anyone has come to the real Jane Austen in 200 years.

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Thomas Jefferson’s Handwritten Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

≡ Category: Food & Drink, History |Leave a Comment

Another thing you can credit Thomas Jefferson with — being the first known American to record an ice cream recipe. It’s one of 10 surviving recipes written by the founding father.
According to Monticello.

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The Turin Erotic Papyrus: The Oldest Known Depiction of Sex (Circa 1150 B.C.E.)

≡ Category: History |Leave a Comment

With the old joke about every generation thinking they invented sex, Listverse brings us the papyrus above, the oldest depiction of sex on record. Painted sometime in the Ramesside Period (1292-1075 B.C.E.

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Listen to the Oldest Song in the World: A Sumerian Hymn Written 3,400 Years Ago

≡ Category: History, Music |25 Comments

In the early 1950s, archaeologists unearthed several clay tablets from the 14th century B.C.E.. Found, WFMU tells us, “in the ancient Syrian city of Ugarit,” these tablets “contained cuneiform signs in the hurrian language,” which turned out to be the oldest known piece of music ever discovered, a 3,400 year-old cult hymn.

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Jean-Paul Sartre Rejects the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1964: “It Was Monstrous!”

≡ Category: History, Literature, Philosophy, Politics |Leave a Comment

In a 2013 blog post, the great Ursula K. Le Guin quotes a London Times Literary Supplement column by a “J.C.,” who satirically proposes the “Jean-Paul Sartre Prize for Prize Refusal.” “Writers all over Europe and American are turning down awards in the hope of being nominated for a Sartre,” writes J.C.

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