There was a period in the late 20th-century when having hair long enough to sit on was considered something of an accomplishment.
Judging by the long hair pins unearthed from Austria’s Hallstatt burial site, extreme length was an early Iron Age hair goal, too, possibly because a coronet of thick braids made it easier to balance a basket on your head or keep your veil securely fastened.
Gromer, the vice-head of the Vienna Natural History Museum‘s Department of Prehistory, published precise diagrams showing the position of the hair ornaments in relation to the occupants of various graves.
For example, the skeleton in grave 45, below, was discovered with “10 bronze needles to the left of and below the skull, (and) parts of a bronze spiral roll in the neck area.”
Although no hair fibers survive, researchers cross-referencing the pins’ position against figural representations from period artifacts, have made a pretty educated guess as to the sort of hair do this individual may have sported in life, or more accurately, given the context, death.
As to the “bronze spiral roll” – which Donner persists in referring to as a spiral “doobly doo” – it functioned much like a modern day elastic band, preventing the braid from unravelling.
Donner twists hers from wire, after arranging to have replica hairpins custom made to historically accurate dimensions. (The manufacturer, perhaps misunderstanding her interest in history, coated them with an antiquing agent that had to be removed with “brass cleaner and a bit of rubbing.”
Most of the styles are variants on a bun. All withstand the “shake test” and would look right at home in a bridal magazine.
Star Wars fans will be gratified to find not one, but two iconic Princess Leia looks.
Our favorites were the braided loops and double buns meant to be sported beneath a veil.
“The braids do kind of act nicely as an anchor point for the veil to sit on,” Donner reports, “Not a lot of modern application per se for this particular style but it’s cute. It’s fun.”
Either would give you some serious Medieval Festival street cred, even if you have to resort to extensions.
Donner’s video gets a lot of love in the comments from a number of archaeology professionals, including a funerary archaeologist who praises the way she deals with the “inherent issues of preservation bias.”
The final nine minutes contain a DIY tutorial for those who’d like to make their own hairpins, as well as the spiral “doobly doo”.
If you’re of a less crafty bent, a jewelry designer in Finland is selling replicas based on the grave finds of Hallstatt culture on Etsy.
Watch a playlist of Donner’s historical hair experiments and tutorials, though a peek at her Instagram reveals that she got a buzzcut last fall, currently grown out to pixie-ish length.
Download Grömer’s illustrated article on Hallstatt period hairstyles and veils for free (in German) here.
Violinist Kerenza Peacock writes: “I befriended some young violinists in Ukraine via Instagram and discovered some were in basement shelters but had their violins. So I asked colleagues across the world to accompany them in harmony. And I got sent videos from 94 violinists in 29 countries in 48 hours!! An astonishing collaboration forming an international violin choir of support for Ukraine. Illia Bondarenko had to film this between explosions, because he could not hear himself play.
We play an old Ukrainian folk song called Verbovaya Doschechka. Nine other young violinists sheltering in Ukraine join in unison, and are accompanied in harmony by players from London Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo Symphony, Oslo Philharmonic, the Hollywood Studios, and top violinists from all over the world including Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Belgium, Georgia, Poland, South Korea, South Africa, Moldova, Denmark, India, and the entire violin section of the Munich Chamber Orchestra!”
In 1704, Isaac Newton predicted the end of the world sometime around (or after, “but not before”) the year 2060, using a strange series of mathematical calculations. Rather than study what he called the “book of nature,” he took as his source the supposed prophecies of the book of Revelation. While such predictions have always been central to Christianity, it is startling for modern people to look back and see the famed astronomer and physicist indulging them. For Newton, however, as Matthew Stanley writes at Science, “laying the foundation of modern physics and astronomy was a bit of a sideshow. He believed that his truly important work was deciphering ancient scriptures and uncovering the nature of the Christian religion.”
Over three hundred years later, we still have plenty of religious doomsayers predicting the end of the world with Bible codes. But in recent times, their ranks have seemingly been joined by scientists whose only professed aim is interpreting data from climate research and sustainability estimates given population growth and dwindling resources. The scientific predictions do not draw on ancient texts or theology, nor involve final battles between good and evil. Though there may be plagues and other horrible reckonings, these are predictably causal outcomes of over-production and consumption rather than divine wrath. Yet by some strange fluke, the science has arrived at the same apocalyptic date as Newton, plus or minus a decade or two.
The “end of the world” in these scenarios means the end of modern life as we know it: the collapse of industrialized societies, large-scale agricultural production, supply chains, stable climates, nation states…. Since the late sixties, an elite society of wealthy industrialists and scientists known as the Club of Rome (a frequent player in many conspiracy theories) has foreseen these disasters in the early 21st century. One of the sources of their vision is a computer program developed at MIT by computing pioneer and systems theorist Jay Forrester, whose model of global sustainability, one of the first of its kind, predicted civilizational collapse in 2040. “What the computer envisioned in the 1970s has by and large been coming true,” claims Paul Ratner at Big Think.
Those predictions include population growth and pollution levels, “worsening quality of life,” and “dwindling natural resources.” In the video at the top, see Australia’s ABC explain the computer’s calculations, “an electronic guided tour of our global behavior since 1900, and where that behavior will lead us,” says the presenter. The graph spans the years 1900 to 2060. “Quality of life” begins to sharply decline after 1940, and by 2020, the model predicts, the metric contracts to turn-of-the-century levels, meeting the sharp increase of the “Zed Curve” that charts pollution levels. (ABC revisited this reporting in 1999 with Club of Rome member Keith Suter.)
You can probably guess the rest—or you can read all about it in the 1972 Club of Rome-published report Limits to Growth, which drew wide popular attention to Jay Forrester’s books Urban Dynamics (1969) and World Dynamics(1971). Forrester, a figure of Newtonian stature in the worlds of computer science and management and systems theory—though not, like Newton, a Biblical prophecy enthusiast—more or less endorsed his conclusions to the end of his life in 2016. In one of his last interviews, at the age of 98, he told the MIT Technology Review, “I think the books stand all right.” But he also cautioned against acting without systematic thinking in the face of the globally interrelated issues the Club of Rome ominously calls “the problematic”:
Time after time … you’ll find people are reacting to a problem, they think they know what to do, and they don’t realize that what they’re doing is making a problem. This is a vicious [cycle], because as things get worse, there is more incentive to do things, and it gets worse and worse.
Where this vague warning is supposed to leave us is uncertain. If the current course is dire, “unsystematic” solutions may be worse? This theory also seems to leave powerfully vested human agents (like Exxon’s executives) wholly unaccountable for the coming collapse. Limits to Growth—scoffed at and disparagingly called “neo-Malthusian” by a host of libertarian critics—stands on far surer evidentiary footing than Newton’s weird predictions, and its climate forecasts, notes Christian Parenti, “were alarmingly prescient.” But for all this doom and gloom it’s worth bearing in mind that models of the future are not, in fact, the future. There are hard times ahead, but no theory, no matter how sophisticated, can account for every variable.
Note: An earlier version of this post appeared on our site in 2018.
Reuters journalist Andrew Marshall posted this on Twitter: “Outside Lviv station, which is thronging with exhausted refugees fleeing war in eastern Ukraine, an accomplished pianist is playing “What a Wonderful World.” It’s hauntingly beautiful.” Indeed.
The physical grace he brought to such musical fare as Bye Bye Birdie and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is something he deliberately strived for as a fan of silent comedy’s greats, and at 96, it’s not something he takes for granted. He began strength training many decades ago, after observing Broadway dancers’ work outs, and maintains a daily regimen of crunches, leg lifts, and hip openers.
Like White, he thrives in the company of younger people.
He’s by far the oldest member of The Vantastix, a barbershop quartet he formed in 2020.
And for those keeping score, he’s 46 years older than his bride of ten years, Arlene Silver, who sings and dances with him in the above video (and directs, too.)
Yes, Van Dyke’s shoulders and torso may have stiffened a bit in the four years since Mary Poppins Returns found him hopping atop a desk for a spritely soft shoe, but the ease with which he propels himself from a low slung wingback chair at the one-minute mark will strike many viewers as nothing short of miraculous.
This past weekend, monkeys residing at a British zoo got a special treat. A Marvin Gaye impersonator performed “Let’s Get It On” and “Sexual Healing,” all in an effort to help the monkeys, well, “get it on.”
Located in Stafford, England, the Trentham Monkey Forest saw the performance as a novel way to get their endangered Barbary macaques to produce offspring: Park Director Matt Lovatt said on the zoo’s website: “We thought it could be a creative way to encourage our females to show a little affection to males that might not have been so lucky in love.” “Females in season mate with several males so paternity among our furry residents is never known. Each birth is vital to the species with Barbary macaques being classed as endangered. Birthing season occurs in late spring/early summer each year, so hopefully Marvin’s done his magic and we can welcome some new babies!”
For anyone keeping score, Dave Largie is the singer channeling Marvin.
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The fate of the visionary is to be forever outside of his or her time. Such was the life of Nikola Tesla, who dreamed the future while his opportunistic rival Thomas Edison seized the moment. Even now the name Tesla conjures seemingly wildly impractical ventures, too advanced, too expensive, or far too elegant in design for mass production and consumption. No one better than David Bowie, the pop artist of possibility, could embody Tesla’s air of magisterial high seriousness on the screen. And few were better suited than Tesla himself, perhaps, to extrapolate from his time to ours and see the technological future clearly.
Of course, this image of Tesla as a lone, heroic, and even somewhat tragic figure who fell victim to Edison’s designs is a bit of a romantic exaggeration. As even the editor of a 1935 feature interview piece in the now-defunct Liberty magazine wrote, Tesla and Edison may have been rivals in the “battle between alternating and direct current…. Otherwise the two men were merely opposites. Edison had a genius for practical inventions immediately applicable. Tesla, whose inventions were far ahead of the time, aroused antagonisms which delayed the fruition of his ideas for years.” One can in some respects see why Tesla “aroused antagonisms.” He may have been a genius, but he was not a people person, and some of his views, though maybe characteristic of the times, are downright unsettling.
In the lengthy Liberty essay, “as told to George Sylvester Viereck” (a poet and Nazi sympathizer who also interviewed Hitler), Tesla himself makes the pronouncement, “It seems that I have always been ahead of my time.” He then goes on to enumerate some of the ways he has been proven right, and confidently lists the characteristics of the future as he sees it. No one likes a know-it-all, but Tesla refused to compromise or ingratiate himself, though he suffered for it professionally. And he was, in many cases, right. Many of his 1935 predictions in Liberty are still too far off to measure, and some of them will seem outlandish, or criminal, to us today. But some still seem plausible, and a few advisable if we are to make it another 100 years as a species. Tesla’s predictions include the following, which he introduces with the disclaimer that “forecasting is perilous. No man can look very far into the future.”
“Buddhism and Christianity… will be the religion of the human race in the twenty-first century.”
“The year 2100 will see eugenics universally established.” Tesla went on to comment, “no one who is not a desirable parent should be permitted to produce progeny. A century from now it will no more occur to a normal person to mate with a person eugenically unfit than to marry a habitual criminal.”
“Hygiene, physical culture will be recognized branches of education and government. The Secretary of Hygiene or Physical Culture will be far more important in the cabinet of the President of the United States who holds office in the year 2025 than the Secretary of War.” Along with personal hygiene, Tesla included “pollution” as a social ill in need of regulation.
“I am convinced that within a century coffee, tea, and tobacco will be no longer in vogue. Alcohol, however, will still be used. It is not a stimulant but a veritable elixir of life.”
“There will be enough wheat and wheat products to feed the entire world, including the teeming millions of China and India.” (Tesla did not foresee the anti-gluten mania of the 21st century.)
“Long before the next century dawns, systematic reforestation and the scientific management of natural resources will have made an end of all devastating droughts, forest fires, and floods. The universal utilization of water power and its long-distance transmission will supply every household with cheap power.” Along with this optimistic prediction, Tesla foresaw that “the struggle for existence being lessened, there should be development along ideal rather than material lines.”
Tesla goes on to predict the elimination of war, “by making every nation, weak or strong, able to defend itself,” after which war chests would be diverted to funding education and research. He then describes—in rather fantastical-sounding terms—an apparatus that “projects particles” and transmits energy, enabling not only a revolution in defense technology, but “undreamed of results in television.” Tesla diagnoses his time as one in which “we suffer from the derangement of our civilization because we have not yet completely adjusted ourselves to the machine age.” The solution, he asserts—along with most futurists, then and now—“does not lie in destroying but in mastering the machine.” As an example of such mastery, Tesla describes the future of “automatons” taking over human labor and the creation of “a thinking machine.”
When wireless is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, which in fact it is…. We shall be able to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of distance. Not only this, but through television and telephony we shall see and hear one another as perfectly as though were face to face, despite intervening distances of thousands of miles; and the instruments through which we shall be able to do this will be amazingly simple compared with our present telephone. A man will be able to carry one in his vest pocket.
Telsa also made some odd predictions about fuel-less passenger flying machines “free from any limitations of the present airplanes and dirigibles” and spouted more of the scary stuff about eugenics that had come to obsess him late in life. Additionally, Tesla saw changing gender relations as the precursor of a coming matriarchy. This was not a development he characterized in positive terms. For Tesla, feminism would “end in a new sex order, with the female as superior.” (As Novak notes, Tesla’s misgivings about feminism have made him a hero to the so-called “men’s rights” movement.) While he fully granted that women could and would match and surpass men in every field, he warned that “the acquisition of new fields of endeavor by women, their gradual usurpation of leadership, will dull and finally dissipate feminine sensibilities, will choke the maternal instinct, so that marriage and motherhood may become abhorrent and human civilization draw closer and closer to the perfect civilization of the bee.”
It seems to me that a “bee civilization” would appeal to a eugenicist, except, I suppose, Tesla feared becoming a drone. Although he saw the development as inevitable, he still sounds to me like any number of current politicians who argue that society should continue to suppress and discriminate against women for their own good and the good of “civilization.” Tesla may be an outsider hero for geek culture everywhere, but his social attitudes give me the creeps. While I’ve personally always liked the vision of a world in which robots do most the work and we spend most of our money on education, when it comes to the elimination of war, I’m less sanguine about particle rays and more sympathetic to the words of Ivor Cutler.
Note: An earlier version of this post appeared on our site in 2015.
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