Watch Amanda Gorman Read “The Hill We Climb,” “Making Mountains As We Run,” “Fury and Faith,” and More

Led by celebri­ty host Tom Han­ks, the Biden inauguration’s enter­tain­ers, A‑listers all, were safe bets, reli­able sta­di­um-fillers with instant mass appeal. They “did exact­ly what we need­ed them to do,” remarked Stephanie Zacharek at TIME, offer­ing the reas­sur­ance that “we no longer need to live in dread.” They were “singers you actu­al­ly know,” Alex­is Petridis wrote at The Guardian. The com­ment was a dig at the pre­vi­ous administration’s C and D‑list line­up, and also, per­haps, an admis­sion that what Amer­i­cans most crave is the famil­iar, which, of course, means, first and fore­most, a nation­al focus on celebri­ties we all know and love.

For a moment, how­ev­er, this rep­e­ti­tion of com­fort­ing house­hold names was punc­tu­at­ed by an entire­ly new young face and voice—that of a poet, no less, a stan­dard bear­er of the form that has held the nation’s rapt atten­tion in the work of Whit­man, Frost, Hugh­es, and Angelou.

Aman­da Gor­man, cho­sen as the first Nation­al Youth Poet Lau­re­ate in 2017, chan­neled a tra­di­tion of Amer­i­can lyric writ­ing about Amer­i­ca in her inau­gu­ra­tion poem, and she brought to it her own expe­ri­ences as a Gen Z black fem­i­nist and activist who over­came a speech imped­i­ment to address the coun­try at one of the most sig­nif­i­cant tele­vised pub­lic events in recent his­to­ry.

Gorman’s resume is a tes­ta­ment to her generation’s com­mit­ment to art and activism in the face of com­pound­ing crises, and to her per­son­al com­mit­ment to change in a coun­try that promis­es lit­tle for young black artists in par­tic­u­lar. Named youth poet lau­re­ate of Los Ange­les in 2014 at age 16, she pub­lished her first book of poet­ry, The One for Whom Food is Not Enough, the fol­low­ing year. She then went on to found a non­prof­it writ­ing and lead­er­ship pro­gram, open the lit­er­ary sea­son for the Library of Con­gress in 2017, and grad­u­ate cum laude from Har­vard Col­lege with a degree in soci­ol­o­gy in 2020.

While chart­ing her own lit­er­ary path, Gor­man learned to use her voice as “a polit­i­cal choice,” as she says in her TED-Ed stu­dent talk above, in which she con­fi­dent­ly asks a small audi­ence of her peers, “whose shoul­ders do you stand on?” and “what do you stand for?” These are the ques­tions she asks stu­dents in work­shops, she says, to shake them out of the idea that poet­ry is for “dead white men who were just born to be old.” Then she shares her own answers. Gorman’s pub­lic appear­ances tend to focus on process as much as on pol­i­tics and prosody. In a talk on “Pre­sen­ta­tion and Read­ing” at the Acad­e­my of Arts & Sci­ences in Cam­bridge below, she reads a poem, then has a brief dis­cus­sion of “how it came to be.”

Gor­man is as skilled a sto­ry­teller as she is a poet and edu­ca­tor. In her 2017 Moth Grand­SLAM appear­ance in Boston, fur­ther up, she tells the sto­ry of try­ing to catch her big break audi­tion­ing for Broad­way, an aspi­ra­tion shaped by her child­hood love of The Lion King. Her inau­gur­al poem, she tells PBS, was writ­ten to “be acces­si­ble to any­one who might be watch­ing, that they can feel that they are rep­re­sent­ed and well-estab­lished in this poem,” an act of writ­ing she calls “a real­ly dif­fi­cult dance to do.” The effort did not blunt the poem’s most inci­sive lines, how­ev­er, includ­ing its ref­er­ence to “the bel­ly of the beast,” in which “we’ve learned that qui­et isn’t always peace.”

For Gor­man, speak­ing out is a per­son­al imper­a­tive she honed as “a form of a pathol­o­gy,” over­com­ing her speech issues “by embark­ing on spo­ken word over and over and over again and recit­ing my poems. No mat­ter how ter­ri­fied I was, because I had the sup­port of oth­ers, I was able to kind of slow­ly climb my way to the place I am at today.”

For mil­lions of young peo­ple who watched the inau­gu­ra­tion, it will be Gorman’s sto­ry of per­se­ver­ance, com­mu­ni­ty, per­son­al growth, and refusal to be pas­sive and silent in the face of social injus­tice that will most res­onate, per­haps for the rest of their lives, amidst cel­e­bra­tions of a longed-for return to the famil­iar. See Gor­man read more of her poet­ry above and below, includ­ing a poem for anoth­er inau­gu­ra­tion, that of Har­vard Pres­i­dent Lawrence S. Bacow, in 2018.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Joy Har­jo, New­ly-Appoint­ed U.S. Poet Lau­re­ate, Reads Her Poems, “Remem­ber,” “A Poem to Get Rid of Fear,” “An Amer­i­can Sun­rise” and More

Lis­ten to Robert Frost Read ‘The Gift Out­right,’ the Poem He Recit­ed from Mem­o­ry at JFK’s Inau­gu­ra­tion

Ani­mat­ed Poet­ry by US Poet Lau­re­ate

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

Algerian Cave Paintings Suggest Humans Did Magic Mushrooms 9,000 Years Ago

We mod­erns might won­der what ancient peo­ples did when not hunt­ing, gath­er­ing, and repro­duc­ing. The answer is that they did mush­rooms, at least accord­ing to one inter­pre­ta­tion of cave paint­ings at Tas­sili n’A­j­jer in Alge­ria, some of which go back 9,000 years. “Here are the ear­li­est known depic­tions of shamans with large num­bers of graz­ing cat­tle,” writes ethnobotanist/mystic Ter­ence McKen­na in his book Food of the Gods: The Search for the Orig­i­nal Tree of Knowl­edge. “The shamans are danc­ing with fists full of mush­rooms and also have mush­rooms sprout­ing out of their bod­ies. In one instance they are shown run­ning joy­ful­ly, sur­round­ed by the geo­met­ric struc­tures of their hal­lu­ci­na­tions. The pic­to­r­i­al evi­dence seems incon­tro­vert­ible.”

McKen­na was­n’t the only schol­ar of the psy­che­del­ic expe­ri­ence to take an inter­est in Tas­sili. Gior­gio Samor­i­ni had writ­ten about its ancient paint­ings a few years before, focus­ing on one that depicts “a series of masked fig­ures in line and hier­at­i­cal­ly dressed or dressed as dancers sur­round­ed by long and live­ly fes­toons of geo­met­ri­cal designs of dif­fer­ent kinds.” Each dancer “holds a mush­room-like object in the right hand,” but the key visu­al ele­ment is the par­al­lel lines that “come out of this object to reach the cen­tral part of the head of the dancer.” These “could sig­ni­fy an indi­rect asso­ci­a­tion or non-mate­r­i­al flu­id pass­ing from the object held in the right hand and the mind,” an inter­pre­ta­tion in line with the idea of “the uni­ver­sal men­tal val­ue induced by hal­lu­cino­genic mush­rooms and veg­e­tals, which is often of a mys­ti­cal and spir­i­tu­al nature.”

The U.S. For­est Ser­vice acknowl­edges Tas­sili as “the old­est known pet­ro­glyph depict­ing the use of psy­choac­tive mush­rooms,” adding the pos­tu­late that “the mush­rooms depict­ed on the ‘mush­room shaman’ are Psilo­cybe mush­rooms.” That name will sound famil­iar to 21st-cen­tu­ry con­scious­ness-alter­ation enthu­si­asts, some of whom advo­cate for the use of psilo­cy­bin, the psy­che­del­ic com­pound that occurs in such mush­rooms, as not just a recre­ation­al drug but a treat­ment for con­di­tions like depres­sion. Cave art like Tas­sil­i’s sug­gests that such instru­men­tal uses of hal­lu­cino­genic plants — as vital parts of rit­u­als, for exam­ple — may stretch all the way back to the Neolith­ic era, when last the Sahara desert was a rel­a­tive­ly ver­dant savan­na rather than the vast expanse of sand we know today.

A sense of con­ti­nu­ity with the prac­tices of these long-ago pre­de­ces­sors — ancient Egyp­tians to the ancient Egyp­tians, as one Red­di­tor frames it — must enrich mush­room use for many psy­cho­nauts today. And indeed, the “bee-head­ed shaman” and his com­pa­tri­ots have had a robust cul­tur­al after­life: “A pop­u­lar­ly pub­lished draw­ing based on one of the Tas­sili fig­ures has become an icon of post-1990’s psy­che­delia,” says Bri­an Akers of Mush­room: The Jour­nal of Wild Mush­room­ing. The “abstract-bizarre” style of its images have also put it “among the sites favored by ancient ET the­o­riz­ing.” How­ev­er rich the visions expe­ri­enced by the cave-painters who once lived there, sure­ly none could have been as mind-blow­ing as the idea that their work would still fire up imag­i­na­tions nine mil­len­nia lat­er.

via Red­dit

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Gold­en Guide to Hal­lu­cino­genic Plants: Dis­cov­er the 1977 Illus­trat­ed Guide Cre­at­ed by Harvard’s Ground­break­ing Eth­nob­otanist Richard Evan Schultes

Psilo­cy­bin Could Soon Be a Legal Treat­ment for Depres­sion: Johns Hop­kins Pro­fes­sor, Roland Grif­fiths, Explains How Psilo­cy­bin Can Relieve Suf­fer­ing

Was a 32,000-Year-Old Cave Paint­ing the Ear­li­est Form of Cin­e­ma?

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

How Richard Feynman’s Diagrams Revolutionized Physics

If you want to under­stand the­o­ret­i­cal physics these days—as much as is pos­si­ble with­out years of spe­cial­ized study—there are no short­age of places to turn on the inter­net. Of course, this was not the case in the ear­ly 1960s when Richard Feyn­man gave his famous series of lec­tures at Cal­tech. In pub­lished form, these lec­tures became the most pop­u­lar book on physics ever writ­ten. Feynman’s sub­se­quent auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal essays and acces­si­ble pub­lic appear­ances fur­ther solid­i­fied his rep­u­ta­tion as the fore­most pop­u­lar com­mu­ni­ca­tor of physics, “a fun-lov­ing, charis­mat­ic prac­ti­cal jok­er,” writes Mette Ilene Holm­nis at Quan­ta mag­a­zine, even if “his per­for­ma­tive sex­ism looks very dif­fer­ent to mod­ern eyes.”

Feynman’s genius went beyond that of “ordi­nary genius­es,” his men­tor, Hans Bethe, direc­tor of the Man­hat­tan Project, exclaimed: “Feyn­man was a magi­cian.” That may be so, but he was nev­er above reveal­ing how he learned his tricks, such that any­one could use his meth­ods, whether or not they could achieve his spec­tac­u­lar results. Feyn­man didn’t only teach his stu­dents, and his mil­lions of read­ers, about physics; he also taught them how to teach them­selves. The so-called “Feyn­man tech­nique” for effec­tive study­ing ensures that stu­dents don’t just par­rot knowl­edge, but that they can “iden­ti­fy any gaps” in their under­stand­ing, he empha­sized, and bol­ster weak points where they “can’t explain an idea sim­ply.”

Years before he became the fore­most pub­lic com­mu­ni­ca­tor of sci­ence, Feyn­man per­formed the same ser­vice for his col­leagues. “With physi­cists in the late 1940s strug­gling to refor­mu­late a rel­a­tivis­tic quan­tum the­o­ry describ­ing the inter­ac­tions of elec­tri­cal­ly charged par­ti­cles,” Holm­nis writes, “Feyn­man con­jured up some Nobel Prize-win­ning mag­ic. He intro­duced a visu­al method to sim­pli­fy the seem­ing­ly impos­si­ble cal­cu­la­tions need­ed to describe basic par­ti­cle inter­ac­tions.” The video above, ani­mat­ed by Holm­nis, shows just how sim­ple it was—just a few lines, squig­gles, cir­cles, and arrows.

Holm­nis quotes Feyn­man biog­ra­ph­er James Gle­ick’s descrip­tion: Feyn­man “took the half-made con­cep­tions of waves and par­ti­cles in the 1940s and shaped them into tools that ordi­nary physi­cists could use and under­stand.” Feyn­man Dia­grams helped make sense of quan­tum elec­tro­dy­nam­ics, a the­o­ry that “attempt­ed to cal­cu­late the prob­a­bil­i­ty of all pos­si­ble out­comes of par­ti­cle inter­ac­tions,” the video explains. Among the theory’s prob­lems was the writ­ing of “equa­tions meant keep­ing track of all inter­ac­tions, includ­ing vir­tu­al ones, a gru­el­ing, hope­less exer­cise for even the most orga­nized and patient physi­cist.”

Using his touch for the relat­able, Feyn­man drew his first dia­grams in 1948. They remain, wrote Nobel Prize-win­ning physi­cist Frank Wilczek, “a trea­sured asset in physics because they often pro­vide good approx­i­ma­tions to real­i­ty. They help us bring our pow­ers of visu­al imag­i­na­tion to bear on worlds we can’t actu­al­ly see.” Learn more about Feyn­man Dia­grams in the video above and at Holm­nis’ arti­cle in Quan­ta here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The “Feyn­man Tech­nique” for Study­ing Effec­tive­ly: An Ani­mat­ed Primer

The Feyn­man Lec­tures on Physics, The Most Pop­u­lar Physics Book Ever Writ­ten, Is Now Com­plete­ly Online

What Made Richard Feyn­man One of the Most Admired Edu­ca­tors in the World

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova Tells Protestors What to Do–and Not Do–If Arrested by Authoritarian Police

Note: If the sub­ti­tles don’t play auto­mat­i­cal­ly, please click the “cc” at the bot­tom of the video.

Oli­garchic regimes built on cor­rup­tion and naked self-inter­est don’t typ­i­cal­ly exhib­it much in the way of cre­ativ­i­ty when respond­ing to crises of legit­i­ma­cy. The most recent chal­lenge to the oli­garchic rule of Vladimir Putin, for exam­ple, after the attempt­ed assas­si­na­tion and jail­ing of his rival, anti-cor­rup­tion activist Alex­ey Naval­ny, revealed “the regime’s utter lack of imag­i­na­tion and inabil­i­ty to plan ahead,” writes Masha Gessen at The New York­er, and seems to promise an open­ing for a rev­o­lu­tion­ary move­ment.

Per­haps it’s safer to say, Joshua Yaf­fa writes, “that Russ­ian pol­i­tics are mere­ly enter­ing the begin­ning of a pro­tract­ed new phase,” that will involve more large, coor­di­nat­ed mass protests against the “per­ceived impuni­ty and law­less­ness of Putin’s sys­tem,” such as hap­pened all over the coun­try in recent days: “In St. Peters­burg, a siz­able crowd blocked Nevsky Prospekt, the city’s main thor­ough­fare. Sev­er­al thou­sand gath­ered in Novosi­birsk, the largest city in Siberia. Even in Yakut­sk, a far­away region­al cap­i­tal, where the day’s tem­per­a­tures reached minus fifty-eight degrees Fahren­heit, a num­ber of peo­ple came out to the cen­tral square.”

Footage from the protests “shows activists pelt­ing Russ­ian riot police and vehi­cles with snow­balls,” Dazed reports. Mas­sive, in-real-life protests have been orga­nized and sup­port­ed by online activists on Tik Tok, YouTube, and oth­er social media sites, where young peo­ple like viral teenag­er Neu­rol­era share tips—such as pre­tend­ing to be an indig­nant Amer­i­can—that might help pro­tes­tors avoid arrest. In one video call­ing on young stu­dents to attend Saturday’s protests, a young woman holds a book, and cap­tions “explain how she is read­ing about how cit­i­zens’ rights are guar­an­teed,” writes Bren­dan Cole at Newsweek. “But wait!” she says in one cap­tion, “In Rus­sia things hap­pen dif­fer­ent­ly.”

Russ­ian cit­i­zens, and espe­cial­ly young activists, do not walk into protest sit­u­a­tions unpre­pared for arrest and detention—particularly those who fol­low long­time trou­ble-mak­ers Pussy Riot, famous for stag­ing flam­boy­ant anti-Putin protests and get­ting arrest­ed. In the video at the top, the band/activist collective’s Nadya Tolokon­niko­va explains “how to behave when you’re arrest­ed.” Deten­tion “is an unpleas­ant expe­ri­ence,” she says, but it need not “end up being such a trau­mat­ic expe­ri­ence.” One must con­quer fear with knowl­edge. Dur­ing her first arrest, “I was scared because I felt that the police offi­cers held an enor­mous pow­er over me. That’s not true.”

The Eng­lish trans­la­tion seems inex­act and many of the intri­ca­cies of Russ­ian law will not trans­late to oth­er nation­al con­texts. Woven through­out the video, how­ev­er, are gen­er­al­ly pru­dent tips—like not adding crim­i­nal charges by attack­ing police dur­ing arrest. Last year, the group dis­trib­uted anti-sur­veil­lance make-up tips also use­ful to activists every­where. The viral spread of videos like Pussy Riot’s and Neurolera’s tuto­r­i­al show us a world­wide desire for youth­ful hope and deter­mi­na­tion in the face of bru­tal real­i­ties. Yaf­fa describes the “scenes of police employ­ing brute force” that filled his Russ­ian-lan­guage social media dur­ing the protests:

In one such video, from St. Peters­burg, a woman con­fronts a col­umn of riot police­men drag­ging a pro­test­er by his arms and asks, “Why are you arrest­ing him?” One of the police offi­cers kicks her in the chest, knock­ing her to the ground. Watch­ing these scenes, I couldn’t help but think of Belarus, where months of street protests against the rule of Alexan­der Lukashen­ka have been marked by bru­tal­i­ty and tor­ture by the secu­ri­ty forces, and a remark­able will­ing­ness from pro­test­ers to fight back against riot police, at times forc­ing them to retreat or aban­don mak­ing an arrest.

These images do not spread so read­i­ly in Eng­lish-lan­guage media, per­haps giv­ing a super­fi­cial impres­sion that the cur­rent anti-Putin, pro-Naval­ny move­ment is a new, young online phe­nom­e­non, rather than the con­tin­u­a­tion of a bat­tle-hard­ened resis­tance to twen­ty years of mis­rule. “Throw­ing the book at Naval­ny could spark protests of unde­ter­mined strength and longevi­ty,” Yaf­fa argues, from which mass move­ments around the world draw inspi­ra­tion for years to come.

via Dazed

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

A His­to­ry of Pussy Riot: Watch the Band’s Ear­ly Performances/Protests Against the Putin Regime

Slavoj Žižek & Pussy Riot’s Nadezh­da Tolokon­niko­va Exchange An Extra­or­di­nary Series of Let­ters

Pussy Riot Releas­es First Video in a Year, Tak­ing on Russ­ian Oil Prof­its and Oth­er High-Pro­file Tar­gets

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

Rick Steves’ Europe: Binge Watch 11 Seasons of America’s Favorite Traveler Free Online

“Peo­ple who are addict­ed to Euro­pean trav­el, this is kind of a frus­trat­ing time for them,” says Rick Steves in a pod­cast inter­view with The New York Times’ Sam Ander­son from this past spring. He should know: since becom­ing a pro­fes­sion­al trav­el guide and edu­ca­tor in the late 1970s, Steves has har­nessed his own Euro­pean trav­el addic­tion to build a busi­ness empire. To his fel­low Europhiles — and espe­cial­ly his fel­low Europhile but monoglot Amer­i­cans mak­ing their first leap across the Atlantic — Steves has sold a great many class­es, tours, guide­books, mon­ey belts, and neck pil­lows. Over the past three decades, almost every­one who’s got to know him has done so through his trav­el shows on pub­lic tele­vi­sion, espe­cial­ly Rick Steves’ Europe.

“Steves is a joy­ful and jaun­ty host, all eager-beaver smiles and expres­sive head tilts,” writes Ander­son of the show, whose star “gush­es poet­i­cal­ly about England’s Lake Dis­trict (‘a lush land steeped in a rich brew of his­to­ry, cul­ture and nature’) and Erfurt, Ger­many (‘this half-tim­bered medieval town with a shal­low riv­er gur­gling through its cen­ter’) and Istan­bul (‘this sprawl­ing metrop­o­lis on the Bosporus’) and Lis­bon (‘like San Fran­cis­co, but old­er and grit­ti­er and less expen­sive’).”

In recent years, sea­sons of Rick Steves’ Europe have become free to watch on Youtube. The eleven full sea­sons now avail­able also include “Ger­many’s Roman­tic Rhine”; Nor­mandy, “War-Torn Yet Full of Life”; “Feisty and Poet­ic” North Wales; “Lit­tle Europe: Five Micro-Coun­tries”; Basque coun­try; and The Best of Slove­nia.

As well known for his prac­ti­cal-mind­ed­ness as he is for his cheer­ful­ness, Steves has also pro­duced such spe­cial broad­casts as a three-part series on the trav­el skills nec­es­sary to cross huge swaths of Europe safe­ly and enjoy­ably. Giv­en the ongo­ing coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic, how­ev­er, it will be a while before any of us can once again put our trav­el skills to the test. “This virus can stop our trav­el plans, but it can­not stop our trav­el dreams,” Steves declares on the pod­cast with Ander­son, lead­ing into the announce­ment of a new game: Rick Steves’ Europe Bin­go, “where the cards have all of the lit­tle goofy clichés that show up in almost every one of my shows,” from “Rick vis­its a church” and “Rick enjoys a local drink” to sig­na­ture lines like “Oh, baby!” and “Keep on trav­elin’.”

“You can turn it into a drink­ing game if you want,” Steves notes. And indeed, with or with­out the aid of alco­hol, there are much worse ways for trav­el­ers to pass the remain­der of the pan­dem­ic than with an extend­ed binge-watch of Rick Steves’ Europe, whose sea­sons are orga­nized into playlists below:

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Sto­ry of Fas­cism: Rick Steves’ Doc­u­men­tary Helps Us Learn from the Hard Lessons of the 20th Cen­tu­ry

Explore the Entire World–from the Com­fort of Quar­an­tine — with 4K Walk­ing Tours

High-Res­o­lu­tion Walk­ing Tours of Italy’s Most His­toric Places: The Colos­se­um, Pom­peii, St. Peter’s Basil­i­ca & More

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­terBooks on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

A 400-Year-Old Ring that Unfolds to Track the Movements of the Heavens

Rings with dis­creet dual pur­pose have been in use since before the com­mon era, when Han­ni­bal, fac­ing extra­di­tion, alleged­ly ingest­ed the poi­son he kept secret­ed behind a gem­stone on his fin­ger. (More recent­ly, poi­son rings gave rise to a pop­u­lar Game of Thrones fan the­o­ry…)

Vic­to­ri­ans pre­vent­ed their most close­ly kept secrets—illicit love let­ters, per­haps? Last wills and testaments?—from falling into the wrong hands by wear­ing the keys to the box­es con­tain­ing these items con­cealed in signet rings and oth­er state­ment-type pieces.

A tiny con­cealed blade could be lethal on the fin­ger of a skilled (and no doubt, beau­ti­ful) assas­sin. These days, they might be used to col­lect a bit of one’s attack­er’s DNA.

Enter the fic­tion­al world of James Bond, and you’ll find a num­ber of handy dandy spy rings includ­ing one that dou­bles as a cam­era, and anoth­er capa­ble of shat­ter­ing bul­let­proof glass with a sin­gle twist.

Armil­lary sphere rings like the ones in the British Muse­um’s col­lec­tion and the Swedish His­tor­i­cal Muse­um (top) serve a more benign pur­pose. Fold­ed togeth­er, the two-part out­er hoop and three inte­ri­or hoops give the illu­sion of a sim­ple gold band. Slipped off the wearer’s fin­ger, they can fan out into a phys­i­cal mod­el of celes­tial lon­gi­tude and lat­i­tude.

Art his­to­ri­an Jes­si­ca Stew­art writes that in the 17th cen­tu­ry, rings such as the above spec­i­men were “used by astronomers to study and make cal­cu­la­tions. These pieces of jew­el­ry were con­sid­ered tokens of knowl­edge. Inscrip­tions or zodi­ac sym­bols were often used as dec­o­ra­tive ele­ments on the bands.”

The armil­lary sphere rings in the British Museum’s col­lec­tion are made of a soft high alloy gold.

Jew­el­ry-lov­ing mod­ern astronomers seek­ing an old school fin­ger-based cal­cu­la­tion tool that real­ly works can order armil­lary sphere rings from Brook­lyn-based design­er Black Adept.

via My Mod­ern Met

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

How the World’s Old­est Com­put­er Worked: Recon­struct­ing the 2,200-Year-Old Antikythera Mech­a­nism

A 9th Cen­tu­ry Man­u­script Teach­es Astron­o­my by Mak­ing Sub­lime Pic­tures Out of Words

The Ancient Astron­o­my of Stone­henge Decod­ed

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. She most recent­ly appeared as a French Cana­di­an bear who trav­els to New York City in search of food and mean­ing in Greg Kotis’ short film, L’Ourse.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

Resilience Skills in a Time of Uncertainty: A Free Course from the University of Pennsylvania

Who could use a course on resilience these days? To get you through this win­ter of dis­con­tent, the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia has cre­at­ed a free ver­sion of Dr. Karen Reivich’s “Resilience Skills” course. (It’s part of the Foun­da­tions of Pos­i­tive Psy­chol­o­gy Spe­cial­iza­tion offered through Cours­era.) This course teach­es stu­dents to 1.) under­stand the pro­tec­tive fac­tors that make one resilient, 2.) make use of non-cog­ni­tive strate­gies that decrease anx­i­ety, 3.) rec­og­nize think­ing traps and how they under­cut resilience, and 4.) cre­ate a buffer of pos­i­tiv­i­ty that boosts resilience in stress­ful sit­u­a­tions.

The course tech­ni­cal­ly runs four weeks, but it can be binge-watched at what­ev­er rate you like. The course draws on the instruc­tor’s book, The Resilience Fac­tor: 7 Keys to Find­ing Your Inner Strength and Over­com­ing Life’s Hur­dles. To take the course for free, select the “Audit” option dur­ing the reg­is­tra­tion process.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

What Are the Keys to Hap­pi­ness?: Take “The Sci­ence of Well-Being,” a Free Online Ver­sion of Yale’s Most Pop­u­lar Course

Intro­duc­tion to Psy­chol­o­gy: A Free Course from Yale Uni­ver­si­ty

Har­vard Course on Pos­i­tive Psy­chol­o­gy: Watch 30 Lec­tures from the University’s Extreme­ly Pop­u­lar Course

Build­ing Your Resilience: Find­ing Mean­ing in Adversity–Take a Free & Time­ly Course Online

This 392-Year-Old Bon­sai Tree Sur­vived the Hiroshi­ma Atom­ic Blast & Still Flour­ish­es Today: The Pow­er of Resilience

Cocktails with a Curator: The Frick Pairs Weekly Art History Lectures with Cocktail Recipes

Once upon a time, not so long ago, First Fri­days at the Frick were a gra­cious way for New York­ers to kick off the week­end. Admis­sion was waived, par­tic­i­pants could take part in open sketch­ing ses­sions or enjoy live per­for­mance, and cura­tors were on hand to give mini lec­tures on the sig­nif­i­cance and his­tor­i­cal con­text of cer­tain prized paint­ings in the col­lec­tion.

Rather than pull the plug entire­ly when the muse­um closed due to the pan­dem­ic, the Frick sought to pre­serve the spir­it of this long­stand­ing tra­di­tion with week­ly episodes of Cock­tails with a Cura­tor, match­ing each selec­tion with recipes for make-at-home themed drinks, with or with­out alco­hol.

Much as we miss these com­mu­nal live events, there’s some­thing to be said for enjoy­ing these wild­ly enter­tain­ing, edu­ca­tion­al mini-lec­tures from the com­fort of one’s own couch, drink in hand, no need to crane past oth­er vis­i­tors for a view, or wor­ry that one might keel over from lock­ing one’s knees too long.

Deputy Direc­tor and Peter Jay Sharp Chief Cura­tor Xavier F. Salomon makes for an espe­cial­ly engag­ing host. His cov­er­age of James McNeill Whistler’s Sym­pho­ny in Flesh Col­or and Pink: Por­trait of Mrs. Frances Ley­land, above, touch­es on the artist’s affin­i­ty for but­ter­flies, music, Japan­ese themes and build­ing his own frames.

But the great­est delight is Salomon’s tal­ent for imbu­ing 19th-cen­tu­ry art world gos­sip with a sense of imme­di­a­cy.

Sip a sake high­ball (or a vir­gin san­gria-style refresh­er of plum juice and mint) and chew on the true nature of the artist’s rela­tion­ship with his ship­ping mag­nate patron’s wife.

Sake High­ball
sake (of your choice)
club soda (as much/little as need­ed)
lots of ice

Alter­na­tive Mock­tail
plum juice

cut orange, lemon and apple (san­gria style)
mint leaves
sug­ar (as need­ed)

Salomon returns to con­sid­er one of the Frick’s most icon­ic hold­ings, François Bouch­er’s roco­co Four Sea­sons.

Com­mis­sioned in 1755 to serve as over-door dec­o­ra­tions for King Louis XV’s mis­tress Madame de Pom­padour, they now reside in the Frick’s ornate Bouch­er Room.

Salomon draws com­par­isons to anoth­er swoon­ing Frick favorite, Jean-Hon­oré Frag­o­nard’s series Progress of Love. While the roman­tic nature of these works is hard­ly a secret, Salomon is able to speak to the erot­ic sig­nif­i­cance of dol­phins, grapes, and tiny 18th-cen­tu­ry shep­herdess bon­nets.

Those who are respect­ing COVID pro­to­cols by court­ing out­doors this win­ter will wel­come Salomon’s thoughts on Winter’s cen­tral fig­ure, a coquette rid­ing in a sleigh dri­ven by a well-bun­dled man in Tar­tar dress:

Her hands may be warmed by a muff, but her upper body is com­plete­ly exposed. It’s a com­bi­na­tion of lux­u­ry and seduc­tion typ­i­cal of Bouch­er, all treat­ed in a fan­ci­ful, even humor­ous man­ner.

Also, is it just us, or is Cura­tor Salomon tak­ing the oppor­tu­ni­ty to enjoy his Proust-inspired Time Regained cock­tail in a kimono? (A perk of the vir­tu­al office…)

Time Regained
2 oz. Scotch whisky
0.75 oz. Dry ver­mouth
0.5 oz. Pis­co
0.25 oz. Jas­mine tea syrup (equal parts of jas­mine tea and sug­ar)

Alter­na­tive Mock­tail
Cold jas­mine tea
One spoon­ful of gold­en syrup
Top with ton­ic water

Salomon hands host­ing duties to col­league Aimee Ng for Ver­meer’s Mis­tress and Maid, one of three works by the Dutch Mas­ter in the Frick­’s col­lec­tion.

Here the dra­ma is less explic­it­ly informed by the boudoir, though there’s a big reveal around the 10 minute mark, thanks to recent advances in infrared reflec­tog­ra­phy and some well-coor­di­nat­ed art sleuthing.

As to the con­tents of the mes­sage the maid prof­fers her ermine trimmed mis­tress, we’ll nev­er know, although those of us with ready access to the Dutch spir­it gen­ev­er can have fun spec­u­lat­ing over a glass of Gen­ev­er Brûlée.

Gen­ev­er Brûlée
2 oz gen­ev­er
1 tea­spoon brown sug­ar
A few dash­es of clas­sic bit­ters
A dash of orange bit­ters
A splash of sparkling water
Gar­nished with a caramelized orange slice

Alter­na­tive Mock­tail

Juice of half an orange
2 dash­es orange blos­som water
A splash of sparkling water
Gar­nished with a caramelized orange slice

To explore a playlist of every Cock­tails with a Cura­tor episode, cov­er­ing such notable works as Velázquez’s King Philip IV of SpainClaude Monet’s Vétheuil in Win­ter, and Hans Holbein’s Sir Thomas More, click here.

To read more in-depth cov­er­age of each episode’s fea­tured art­work, along with its cock­tail and mock­tail recipes, click here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Vis­it 2+ Mil­lion Free Works of Art from 20 World-Class Muse­ums Free Online

14 Paris Muse­ums Put 300,000 Works of Art Online: Down­load Clas­sics by Mon­et, Cézanne & More

Where to Find Free Art Images & Books from Great Muse­ums, and Free Books from Uni­ver­si­ty Press­es

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. She most recent­ly appeared as a French Cana­di­an bear who trav­els to New York City in search of food and mean­ing in Greg Kotis’ short film, L’Ourse.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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