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02 Oct 01:11


01 Oct 19:48


01 Oct 19:48

As Benevolent Dictator, Vladimir Nabokov Would Abolish Muzak & Bidets: What Would Make Your List?

by Dan Colman

nabokov abolish

In 1969, the BBC’s James Mossman conducted an extensive interview with Vladimir Nabokov, which was first published in a magazine called The Listener, and later in a book entitled Strong OpinionsSome of Mossman’s questions were serious: “You’ve said that you’ve explored time’s prison and have found no way out. Are you still exploring…? Some were lighter: “Why do you live in hotels?” (Answer here.) And still other questions fell somewhere in between, like: “If you ruled any modern industrial state absolutely, what would you abolish?” It turns out that loud noises, muzak, bidets, and insecticides made the great novelist and lepidopterist’s list.

Which raises the question, if allowed to play benevolent dictator for a day, what would you obliterate? Me? I’d probably start with almost anything likely to appear in today’s Billboard Top 5 — dreck that’s not too far from muzak.

via Biblioklept

Related Content:

Vladimir Nabokov Names the Greatest (and Most Overrated) Novels of the 20th Century

Vladimir Nabokov’s Delightful Butterfly Drawings

Vladimir Nabokov Creates a Hand-Drawn Map of James Joyce’s Ulysses

Vladimir Nabokov Makes Editorial Tweaks to Franz Kafka’s Novella The Metamorphosis

As Benevolent Dictator, Vladimir Nabokov Would Abolish Muzak & Bidets: What Would Make Your List? is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

01 Oct 17:50

After Voter ID law—SURPRISE—Alabama closes DMV offices exactly where most black people live!

You remember in high school history, when the teacher brought up the old, bad days of Jim Crow? With tales of poll taxes and literacy tests to ensure that access to the ballot remained exclusive to white people?

We like to think that those days are gone, that the...

30 Sep 16:43

FEATURE: Study Shows That "White People React To Evidence of White Privilege By Claiming Greater Personal Hardships"

by The Establishment

Raw Story reports that a new research study at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business has found that "white people respond to evidence that they are privileged by their race by insisting that they face greater hardships in life". WTF?! The study was conducted by researchers L. Taylor Phillips and Brian S. Lowery, and published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. Phillips and Lowery state: “Despite this reality, policy makers and power brokers continue to debate whether racial privilege even exists and whether to address such inequity [...] One reason for this inaction might be an unwillingness among Whites to acknowledge racial privilege — acknowledgment that may be difficult given that Whites are motivated to believe that meritocratic systems and personal virtues determine life outcomes.” The denial is real! CLICK HERE to read more.

By Alexander Aplerku, AFROPUNK Contributor


“Our work suggests that privilege reduction efforts might need to focus not only on convincing or educating advantaged group members about privilege, but also on reducing the feelings of self-threat this information induces [...] The existence of hardships does not reduce racial privilege, since racial privilege entails comparison to someone of a different race with equivalent hardships. People may erroneously think privilege entails complete ease in life and that the presence of any hardships denotes an absence of privilege.”

30 Sep 14:44

doritofu:here we can see that Florida is actually a poorly...


here we can see that Florida is actually a poorly written artificial data matrix, as evidenced by this poorly rendered police vehicle clipping through the environment due to similation processor loads being too high during the rainy season.

30 Sep 14:34

"Do other witches wanna fuck the moon as much as we do?"

“Do other witches wanna fuck the moon as much as we do?”

- (via coyote-grin)
30 Sep 14:17

by Draw Bart Draw

30 Sep 13:10

FASHION: A “Modern-Day Warrior" - Debra Shaw for Manish Arora Fall-Winter 2015/16

by Safety Pins

Check out the latest poster campaign from Indian fashion designer Manish Arora, featuring legendary model Debra Shaw. The 90's fashion fixture is photographed in Arora's debut fall winter 2015 collection, dressed as a “modern-day warrior" (states the designer). The campaign was shot by French photographer Charles Fréger - known for his portraits of sportsmen and soldiers - and styled by Joanna Schlenzka; and appeared on the streets of Paris during the fashion capital's recent fashion week. Explore below.

By Alexander Aplerku, AFROPUNK Contributor


30 Sep 12:42

Children will love it

by Scandinavia and the World
Children will love it

Children will love it

View Comic!

30 Sep 12:20

mennyfox55: Jover .


Jover .

30 Sep 12:19


30 Sep 11:28


30 Sep 11:24


29 Sep 19:54

houghtonlib: houghtonlib: The women’s petition against coffee...



The women’s petition against coffee : representing to publick consideration the grand inconveniencies accruing to their sex from the excessive use of that drying, enfeebling liquor, 1674.


“Our men, who in former Ages were justly esteemed the Ablest Performers in Christendome; But to our unspeakable Grief, we find of late a very sensible Decay of that true Old English Vigor; our Gallants being every way so Frenchified, that they are become meer Cock-sparrows, fluttering things that come on Sa sa, with a world of Fury, but are not able to stand to it, and in the very first Charge fall down flat before us. Never did Men wear greater breeches, or carry less in them of any Mettle whatsoever.”

The mens answer to the womens petition against coffee : vindicating their own performances, and the vertues of that liquor, from the undeserved aspersions lately cast upon them, by their scandalous pamphlet, 1674.


Houghton Library, Harvard University

Reblogging for National Coffee Day.

29 Sep 19:33


29 Sep 19:27

Maybe a drinking game is a good way to relate to James Joyce.

English, Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania.

29 Sep 18:51

yeoldenews: A selection of strange and cryptic personal ads...


A selection of strange and cryptic personal ads from The New York Herald, 1860s to 1890s. 3/?

29 Sep 18:02

frrmsd: Printmaker & Artist: Toshihiko...


Printmaker & Artist:

Toshihiko Ikeda






990 mm × 725 mm


Etching on Rice Paper

Edition of 9

29 Sep 15:50

FBI To Begin Collecting Better Data On Police Killings, Use Of Force


WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI will begin collecting and providing to the public more information about police shootings of civilians, FBI Director James Comey said Monday as the agency released annual data on crime nationwide.

Read More →
29 Sep 12:20

holmgangs: infernalhera: The National Aviary in...



The National Aviary in Pittsburgh

pastellieria have you seen this owl IRL

28 Sep 20:26

Why is the American prison population going up so much?

by Tyler Cowen

Slate has an interesting interview with Leon Nayfakh speaking to John Pfaff, here is the critical excerpt from Pfaff:

What appears to happen during this time—the years I look at are 1994 to 2008, just based on the data that’s available—is that the probability that a district attorney files a felony charge against an arrestee goes from about 1 in 3, to 2 in 3. So over the course of the ’90s and 2000s, district attorneys just got much more aggressive in how they filed charges. Defendants who they would not have filed felony charges against before, they now are charging with felonies. I can’t tell you why they’re doing that. No one’s really got an answer to that yet. But it does seem that the number of felony cases filed shoots up very strongly, even as the number of arrests goes down.

You will note that district attorneys are relatively politically independent at this level.  And this:

But just letting people out of prison—decarcerating drug offenders—will not reduce the prison population by as much as people think. If you released every person in prison on a drug charge today, our state prison population would drop from about 1.5 million to 1.2 million. So we’d still be the world’s largest incarcerating country; we’d still have an enormous prison population.

Keep in mind that some in prison on drug charges are actually violent offenders who did a plea bargain down to a drug charge.

The interview also offers evidence against alternative explanations of the boom in the prison population, such as putting the blame on longer sentences.  Here is Pfaff’s home page and his related papers.

28 Sep 20:07

This Glowing Turtle Is the First Biofluorescent Reptile Ever Discovered

by George Dvorsky

During a recent night dive near the Solomon Islands, a team of scientists were stunned to discover a glowing hawksbill sea turtle. It’s the first documented case of biofluorescence in a reptile.


28 Sep 19:27

Food Network Gothic


Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives is on. They play 5 episodes in a row. They play the same five episodes again. And again. And again.

You are watching Chopped. Someone is crying over an unsupportive parent. You wonder what it has to do with their food. The answer is nothing. The judges chop them. The pasta water was not salted. 

You are watching Chopped. A chef claims to be above a basket ingredient. They have not yet realized they are competing on TV for money. They serve uncooked chicken. 

You are watching Chopped. For the dessert round, the ingredients are ground beef, cilantro, horse hooves and a rare fruit from Alaska that is poisonous if not peeled correctly. Both chefs make bread pudding and open the oven every 30 seconds to check it. 

Bobby Flay has a new show. No one asked for Bobby Flay to have a new show. You wonder why no one has punched Bobby Flay on his show. You look up how to be a contestant on Bobby Flays show for the express purpose of punching him in the face when you meet him on his show. You watch three episodes.

A new daytime cooking show has appeared. You have never seen the host before. Their aunt is a guest and insults how they cook. They are already on season 6.

Ina Garten is having a dinner party. She has invited her friend who is a florist, her friend who does tablescapes, her friend who owns a bakery, her friend who owns a cafe in paris, her friend who has connections to an underground truffle ring, a friend who knows where the truffle pigs do not forage, a friend who owes Ina big time, a friend who can carry something roughly the weight of a medium sized human named Jeffery who missed his Friday chicken dinner and threw Ina a subpar anniversary party and should have known that store bought was NOT fine, and a friend who owns a million dollar fishing shack in Nantucket.

Giada is carefully sounding out words in an Italian accent. You didn’t know you said the names of so many ingredients wrong. You are not sure Giada knows this either. 

There is a contest show about food trucks. Someone tries to sell a quesadillia off a truck for $25. There appears to be a line around the block. You question your college degree choices.

Iron Chef has given Morimoto a voice over. He is speaking perfectly understandable english. 

Cupcake Wars is on. One contestant tries to put meat in a cupcake. The judges eat cupcakes gravely, with faces like they are sentencing people to death. The theme is clowns. 

“ There is a contest show about food trucks. Someone tries to sell a quesadillia off a truck for $25. There appears to be a line around the block. You question your college degree choices. “

28 Sep 16:31


by Doc

I was at a writer's retreat this weekend when one of my friends posted a link on Facebook for an article for writers about food in fantasy. I happily clicked through, expecting to see a nice bit of writing that would dispel the common myths about medieval European cooking - after all, there's so much more information available now, and all the old bunk about the middle-ages was debunked a decade ago, right?

Sadly, it was not to be. As the other writers around me can attest, I made all sorts of noises as I read the article, including gasps of disbelief and strangled cries of mental anguish. It was ok through the first five paragraphs, but after that it completely went off the rails.

So, of course, I am compelled to post a rebuttal. Are you surprised? I didn't think so.


Some of what the article says about sugar (the origins, the early use of other sweeteners-primarily honey, etc.) is essentially correct. But it implies that sugar in Europe was incredibly rare and expensive.
"Sugar was still a luxury in Europe and America until the 18th century, when demand led to the creation of sugar plantations in the New World, the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, and India, using slave and indentured labour."
"In a fantasy world similar to our Europe at any time up to the 18th century, sugar would most likely be a rare and expensive commodity." 

Based upon the prices in 15th century London (Prof. John H. Munro, University of Toronto), a craftsman's daily wages could buy a half pound of sugar. Yes, that's a lot of money, but it's also a half pound of freakin' sugar for a single day, which is about double the current level of US sugar consumption per capita.

This is not to say that they were eating that much sugar back then, but rather that (for the growing middle class and nobility) there was plenty of sugar to be had. If the characters in your fantasy world are poor then they'd probably have stuff sweetened with honey, otherwise they can probably get sugar.


The article clearly suggests that meat consumption was not what it is today.
"Without the large scale farming and production that we know today, meat would be less common and much more expensive."

The main reason that modern society requires modern levels of meat production is that we have a very small percentage of our population that actually produces food. Everyone else builds stuff, moves stuff, or pushes paper (or data) around. The few "farmers" we have must do a lot more work to feed everyone.

Yes, medieval agriculture did produce less meat, but they also had way fewer mouths to feed.

There have been a bunch of recent studies which tested the levels of carbon, nitrogen, and iodine in medieval skeletal remains to determine the relative consumption of meat, plants, and fish. They've all shown that medieval meat consumption wasn't out of line with that of the modern diet.

What's more, one study compared the level of meat consumption between the poor and the wealthy and concluded, "No convincing case for social variation in diet can nevertheless be made by comparing isotopic with archaeological and anthropological data."

It's also worth noting that documents from medieval prisons show that prisoners were fed up to two pounds of meat per week. If meat were as scarce as the article suggests then I expect there would have been long lines of people waiting to get thrown in jail.

One final criticism on the topic, the article says:
"Even if a poor family lives next to a wood full of game, they may not necessarily be able to hunt there."
This is technically true, but the poor family could easily raise chickens and pigs for their own consumption or to sell ... and they usually did.

Fruits and Vegetables

The article goes on to discuss the consumption levels of other foodstuffs, and starts off with a statement that is, at best, wildly inaccurate.
"Vegetables are probably going to make up the main bulk of a fantasy character’s diet in any period or setting, unless the character is very rich."

As shown in the section above, the poor got plenty of meat. Further, a huge amount of the daily caloric intake for all classes took the form of bread. The poor got bread from a mixed variety of grains (sometimes called "maslin bread") and the wealthy got fine, white bread (called "manchets" or "paindemain"). Workers in England's manoral system received one or two meals a day as part of their pay, and those meals were often documented to include a full pound of bread per person.

Yes, they ate lots of fruits and vegetables. Whatever was in season was going to be eaten (or preserved if possible), however they were not "the main bulk", regardless of social class. Further, there is plenty of documentation that shows the medieval nobility often had the same health issues related to a crappy diet that we have now: diabetes, obesity, and gout. So some of them (like some of us) didn't eat enough fruits and veggies.

Then there's this little snippet:
"Potatoes, conversely, are notorious for growing almost anywhere."
I think that sentence made me gag a few times.  Yes, potatoes grow everywhere ... except for anywhere outside of the Americas before the year 1500. Potatoes are a new-world plant. They didn't have them in medieval Europe. So, just ... no.


Go ahead and look at Professor Monroe's page again. Spices were expensive in medieval Europe, but they weren't that expensive. Meat pies sold to the working class in the local market would likely have some spice (probably cinnamon). Saffron, which currently is and always has been the most expensive spice in the world, is included in about half of the recipes in medieval cookbooks. Yes, those books were meant for nobles and the middle class, but they were still consuming an incredible amount of spices each year.

From rough calculations, I've figured that spices were about ten times as expensive then as they are now (based on "minimum wage"). That's pretty pricey, but not out of reach ... even for the working class.


The paragraph on water is just plain wrong. Medieval Europeans drank plenty of water, and most of it was perfectly safe. The alcohol content in medieval wine and ale wasn't high enough to kill off parasites. Wells back then weren't any more polluted than they are now.


It can be very useful for writers to consider food for their settings, and adding food references to stories or games set in a medieval fantasy world can add a great amount of realism. Just be sure to get your information from a reliable source.

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28 Sep 15:03

Woman operating the first vending machine in Britain to sell...

Woman operating the first vending machine in Britain to sell potatoes, 1962.

28 Sep 14:54

Study Projects Asians Will Become Largest Immigrant Group In US


WASHINGTON (AP) — In a major shift in immigration patterns over the next 50 years, Asians will have surged past Hispanics to become the largest group of immigrants heading to the United States, according to estimates in a new immigration study.

Read More →
28 Sep 12:40


28 Sep 04:30

This Giant Abandoned Soviet Spaceship Made of Wood Looks Like the Ultimate Children’s Playground Feature

by Christopher Jobson


While exploring an abandoned corner of the Zhukovsky airfield (Ramenskoye Airport) in Moscow two years ago, aviation photographer Aleksander Markin stumbled onto a forgotten relic of Russia’s Buran Space Program. This decaying wooden spacecraft was used as a wind tunnel model in the 1980s for the VKK Space Orbiter, the largest and most expensive Soviet space exploration program conceived as a response to the United States’ Space Shuttle. Despite its scientific purposes the wooden ship has the appearance of a fantastic children’s playground feature.

According to Urban Ghosts, this 1:3 scale replica was just one of 85 wind tunnel models used to test various aerodynamic properties of the orbiter. The testing would eventually reveal that NASA’s prototype for the Enterprise was ideal for spaceflight and the VKK Space Orbiter would take a similar design as a result.

Despite the ambitious size and scale of the Buran Space Program, the final craft would fly only a single unmanned mission in 1988 before being scrapped completely in 1993 due to lack of funding and political instability (and yet only modern Russia retains the ability to send people to the ISS today). Markin mentions in comments along with his photographs that this particular wind tunnel model has since been destroyed and no longer exists. (via Urban Ghosts)







28 Sep 03:23