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Young Stanley Kubrick’s Noirish Pictures of Chicago, 1949

7 hours 43 min ago

When Stanley Kubrick was a mere high school student in April 1945, just after FDR died, he snapped a picture of a news vendor framed on either side by posters announcing the president’s death. He was so excited by the picture that he skipped school to develop it and then marched right into the office of Look magazine. Photo editor Helen O’Brian offered to buy the photo for $25. Displaying his trademark cockiness, Kubrick told her that he wanted to see what price he could get from The New York Daily News. They only offered $10, so Kubrick went with Look. Within a few months, at the age of 17, Kubrick became a staff photographer for the publication.

Below you can see some photographs that Kubrick took in 1949 while on assignment in Chicago. Using the same noirish high-contrast, low-light look that marked his first three movies, he documented all different strata of society from floor traders, to lingerie models, to meat packers to impoverished African-American families. Click  on the images to view them in a larger format. Find a more extensive gallery of images here.

Men working the floor at the Chicago Board of Trade

Lingerie model, wearing a girdle and strapless bra, smoking in an office; in the background a woman sits at a desk

Butcher holding slab of beef in a meat locker

African American mother and her four children in their tenement apartment

Overhead view of the “L” elevated railway

via Mashable

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Stanley Kubrick’s Very First Films: Three Short Documentaries

The Making of Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange

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Terry Gilliam: The Difference Between Kubrick (Great Filmmaker) and Spielberg (Less So)

Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veeptopus, featuring lots of pictures of vice presidents with octopuses on their heads.  The Veeptopus store is here.

Young Stanley Kubrick’s Noirish Pictures of Chicago, 1949 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.

The post Young Stanley Kubrick’s Noirish Pictures of Chicago, 1949 appeared first on Open Culture.

Hear Beowulf Read In the Original Old English: How Many Words Do You Recognize?

11 hours 12 min ago


I was as surprised as most people are when I first heard the ancient language known as Old English. It’s nothing like Shakespeare, nor even Chaucer, who wrote in a late Middle English that sounds strange enough to modern ears. Old English, the English of Beowulf, is almost a foreign tongue; close kin to German, with Latin, Norse, and Celtic influence.

As you can hear in the Beowulf reading above from The Telegraph, it’s a thick, consonant-rich language that may put you in mind of J.R.R. Tolkien’s elvish. The language arrived in Briton—previously inhabited by Celtic speakers—sometime in the fifth century, though whether the Anglo-Saxon invasion was a hostile takeover by Germanic mercenaries or a slow population drift that introduced a new ethnicity is a matter of some dispute. Nevertheless it’s obvious from the reading above—and from texts in the language like this online edition of Beowulf in its original tongue—that we would no more be able to speak to the Anglo-Saxons than we would to the Picts and Scots they conquered.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_K13GJkGvDw

So how is it that both the language we speak and its distant ancestor can both be called “English”? Well, that is what its speakers called it. As the author of this excellent Old English introductory textbook writes, speakers of “Old English,” “Middle English,” and “Modern English” are “themselves modern”; They “would have said, if asked, that the language they spoke was English.” The changes in the language “took place gradually, over the centuries, and there never was a time when people perceived their language as having broken radically with the language spoken a generation before.” And while “relatively few Modern English words come from Old English […] the words that do survive are some of the most common in the language, including almost all the ‘grammar words’ (articles, pronouns, prepositions) and a great many words for everyday concepts.” You may notice a few of those distant linguistic ancestors in the Beowulf passage accompanying the reading above.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y13cES7MMd8

Beowulf is, of course, the oldest epic poem in English, written sometime between the 8th and early 11th century. It draws, however, not from British sources but from Danish myth, and is in fact set in Scandinavia. The title character, a hero of the Geats—or ancient Swedes—travels to Denmark to offer his services to the king and defeat the monster Grendel (and his mother). The product of a warrior culture, the poem shares much in common with the epics of Homer with its code of honor and praise of fighting prowess. Just above, see vocalist, harpist, and medieval scholar Benjamin Bagby perform the opening lines of the poem as its contemporary audience would have experienced it—intoned by a bard with an Anglo-Saxon harp. The modern English subtitles are a boon, but close your eyes for a moment and just listen to the speech—see if you can pick out any words you recognize. Then, perhaps, you may wish to turn to Fordham University’s online translation and find out what all that big talk in the prologue is about.

And for a very short course on the history of English, see this concise page and this ten-minute animated video from Open University.

The image above comes from the sole surviving medieval manuscript of Beowulf, which now resides at the British Library.

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Seamus Heaney Reads His Exquisite Translation of Beowulf

Read an Excerpt of J.R.R. Tolkien’s 1926 Translation of Beowulf Before It’s Finally Published Next Month

What Shakespeare Sounded Like to Shakespeare: Reconstructing the Bard’s Original Pronunciation

Hear The Epic of Gilgamesh Read in the Original Akkadian, the Language of Mesopotamia

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

Hear Beowulf Read In the Original Old English: How Many Words Do You Recognize? 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.

The post Hear Beowulf Read In the Original Old English: How Many Words Do You Recognize? appeared first on Open Culture.

Isaac Asimov Explains the Origins of Good Ideas & Creativity in Never-Before-Published Essay

15 hours 12 min ago

Where do ideas come from? The question has always had the potential to plague anyone trying to do anything worthwhile at any time in human history. But Isaac Asimov, the massively prolific and even more massively influential writer of science fiction and science fact, had an answer. He even, in one 1959 essay, laid out a method, though we, the general public, haven’t had the chance to read it until now. The MIT Technology Review has just published his essay on creativity in full, while providing a few contextualizing remarks from the author’s friend Arthur Obermayer, a scientist who invited Asimov on board an “out of the box” missile-defense research project at an MIT spinoff called Allied Research Associates.

“He expressed his willingness and came to a few meetings,” remembers Obermayer, but “he eventually decided not to continue, because he did not want to have access to any secret classified information; it would limit his freedom of expression. Before he left, however, he wrote this essay on creativity as his single formal input.” When Obermayer found it among his old files, he “recognized that its contents are as broadly relevant today as when [Asimov] wrote it” in 1959, describing as they do “not only the creative process and the nature of creative people but also the kind of environment that promotes creativity.” Whether you write sci-fi novels or do military research, make a web series, or work on curing Ebola, you can put Asimov’s methods to use.

Asimov first investigates the origin of ideas by looking to The Origin of Species. Or rather, he looks to what you find within it, “the theory of evolution by natural selection, independently created by Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace,” two men who “both traveled to far places, observing strange species of plants and animals and the manner in which they varied from place to place,” both “keenly interested in finding an explanation for this,” and both of whom “failed until each happened to read Malthus’s ‘Essay on Population.'” He finds that “what is needed is not only people with a good background in a particular field, but also people capable of making a connection between item 1 and item 2 which might not ordinarily seem connected.” Evolutionary theory seems obvious only in retrospect, he continues, as

The history of human thought would make it seem that there is difficulty in thinking of an idea even when all the facts are on the table. Making the cross-connection requires a certain daring. It must, for any cross-connection that does not require daring is performed at once by many and develops not as a “new idea,” but as a mere “corollary of an old idea.”

It is only afterward that a new idea seems reasonable. To begin with, it usually seems unreasonable. It seems the height of unreason to suppose the earth was round instead of flat, or that it moved instead of the sun, or that objects required a force to stop them when in motion, instead of a force to keep them moving, and so on.

A person willing to fly in the face of reason, authority, and common sense must be a person of considerable self-assurance. Since he occurs only rarely, he must seem eccentric (in at least that respect) to the rest of us. A person eccentric in one respect is often eccentric in others.

Consequently, the person who is most likely to get new ideas is a person of good background in the field of interest and one who is unconventional in his habits. (To be a crackpot is not, however, enough in itself.)

Once you have the people you want, the next question is: Do you want to bring them together so that they may discuss the problem mutually, or should you inform each of the problem and allow them to work in isolation?

The essay puts forth an argument for isolation (“Creation is embarrassing. For every new good idea you have, there are a hundred, ten thousand foolish ones, which you naturally do not care to display”) and a set of best practices for group idea generation, as implementable in the Allied Research Associates of the 1950s as in any organization today. If you can’t trust Asimov on this subject, I don’t know who you can trust, but consider supplementing this newfound essay with Ze Frank’s thematically related video “Brain Crack” (linguistically NSFW, though you can watch the PG version instead), which deals, in an entirely different sensibility, with the question of where ideas come from:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sHCQWjTrJ8

via io9

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Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Isaac Asimov Explains the Origins of Good Ideas & Creativity in Never-Before-Published Essay 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.

The post Isaac Asimov Explains the Origins of Good Ideas & Creativity in Never-Before-Published Essay appeared first on Open Culture.

Louis CK Crashes Zach Galifianakis & Brad Pitt’s Very Awkward Interview

Thu, 23 Oct 2014 - 11:41 pm

Apparently, the bad part about scoring an interview with the President is it kind of makes you blasé for sitting down with anybody else. Not that Zach Galifianakis of Between Two Ferns deserved his tete-a-tete with Obama, or for that matter Bart Pit … Bradley Pitts … Brad Pitt, star of 2013’s 12 Years a Salve (sic).

(The Onion’s fictional “Outside Scoop” entertainment columnist, Jackie Harvey, has nothing on the almost-as-fictional Galifianakis when it comes to murdering names)

Yes, this interviewer is petty, combative, and utterly lacking in grace, but his interviewee, the celebrity who turns stone-faced and sullen almost immediately is no prize either.

Everyone’s miserable, even comedian Louis CK, whom Galifianakis summons with a few bars of his popular sitcom’s theme song. Moods seem on the verge of lifting when Galifianakis brings up Pitts’ starring role in “Benjamin Buttons,” but it doesn’t last. Inevitably, there are references to Pitt’s famous wife, as well as his ex, an earlier Between Two Ferns guest. (She’s no Tila Tequila…)

This is a different dynamic than the one Borat shared with certain incredulous, intelligent subjects. It’s a given that Pitt’s in on the joke. And it would seem that both gentlemen have something they’d like to get across regarding the dirty business of celebrity interviews.

Journalist Janice Turner, took a similar position when she wrote of her nightmarish 2013 interview with actor Rhys Ifans for the London Times:

The game is you listen politely while they plug their film, bang on about their ‘method’, the brilliance of their co-stars and directors etc. Then in return you hope they will offer up — without you having to prod and pester like some celebrity stalker — the tiniest nugget of anecdote, a shard of light upon their real selves.

Because they hate the game too, and particularly since it is mainly conducted in hotel suites, you feel as if you’re engaged in an odd form of prostitution, one where it remains unclear who is the hooker and who the john.

Her perspective brings a certain purity to the Galifianakis-Pitt Ferns stand-off. Certainly, neither of them is playing the game.

If you want to learn how to conduct a horrible interview, watch Galifianakis.

If you want tips on how to make it worse, watch Pitt.

And if you want to be a movie star, seek ways to laugh at yourself without breaking character.

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Watch Frank Zappa Play Michael Nesmith on The Monkees (1967)

Ayun Halliday is the creator of The Mermaid’s Legs, a trauma-filled Hans Christian Andersen reboot playing this week in NYC. See it! And follow her @AyunHalliday

Louis CK Crashes Zach Galifianakis & Brad Pitt’s Very Awkward Interview 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.

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New Animated Web Series Makes the Theory of Evolution Easy to Understand

Thu, 23 Oct 2014 - 12:08 pm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhHOjC4oxh8

When it comes to matters of broad scientific consensus, I’m generally inclined to offer provisional assent. Like everyone else, I have to rely on the expertise of others in matters outside my ken, and in many cases, this rational appeal to authority is the best one can do without acquiring the relevant qualifications and years of experience in highly specialized scientific fields. In the case of evolution, I happen to find the evidence and explanations nearly all biologists proffer much more persuasive than the claims—and accusations—of their mostly unscientific critics. But as we know from recent survey data, a very large percentage of Americans reject the theory of evolution, at least when it comes to humans, though it’s likely a great many of them—like myself—do not know very much about it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIEoO5KdPvg

But as a layperson with an admittedly rudimentary science education, I’m always grateful for clear, simple explanations of complex ideas. This is precisely what we get in the video series Stated Clearly, which harnesses the power of web animation as an instructional tool to define what the theory of evolution is, and why it explains the observable facts better than anything else. Stated Clearly’s tagline is “science is for everyone,” and indeed, their mission “is simple”: “to promote the art of critical thinking by exposing people from all walks of life, to the simple beauty of science.” The video at the top gives us a broad overview of the theory of evolution. The animation just above presents the evidence for evolution, or some of it anyway, in clear, compelling terms, drawing from at least two of the many independent lines of evidence. And below, we have a Stated Clearly take on natural selection, an absolutely key concept of evolutionary biology, and one regularly misunderstood.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SCjhI86grU

After watching these three shorts, you might agree that what is “often considered a complex and controversial topic” is “actually a very simple concept to understand.” In layman’s terms, at least. In fact, artist, narrator, and creator of the series, Jon Perry, admits that he himself has no formal scientific training. “He believed,” his bio states, “that if he could create just one good animation on his own, scientists and educators would realize the potential of this project and help him create more.” And indeed they have. Stated Clearly has a distinguished panel of science advisers and partners that include the Center for Chemical Evolution, Emory University, Georgia Tech, NASA, and the National Science Foundation. Learn much more about Stated Clearly’s goals and affiliations, or lack thereof, at their website. And below, see the fourth video of the series, “Does the Theory of Evolution Really Matter?,” which addresses the practical, real world implications of evolutionary theory, and scientific literacy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqepQGOYKZ0

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

New Animated Web Series Makes the Theory of Evolution Easy to Understand 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.

The post New Animated Web Series Makes the Theory of Evolution Easy to Understand appeared first on Open Culture.

All of H.P. Lovecraft’s Classic Horror Stories Free Online: Download Audio Books, eBooks & More

Thu, 23 Oct 2014 - 8:30 am
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqIxCqayQok

We cannot properly speak of horror fiction without mentioning the name H.P. Lovecraft, any more than we could do so without speaking of Edgar Allan Poe, whose complete works we featured in a post yesterday. Even now, as some of Lovecraft’s really vicious attitudes have come in for much critical reappraisal, the Lovecraftian is still a dominant form. Winners of the World Fantasy Award receive a bust of the author, and dark modern masters like Stephen King and Joyce Carol Oates admit that Lovecraft was “the twentieth century’s greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale” and “an incalculable influence on succeeding generations of writers of horror fiction.” His work, writes Salon, has influenced “everyone from the Argentinian metafictionist Jorge Luis Borges to the film director Guillermo del Toro, as well as untold number of rock bands and game designers.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1b0defrZ3UA

The early twentieth century author spent almost his entire life in the New England of his birth, drawing on its many oddities in obscure stories published in pulp magazines—notably the influential Weird Tales. Hypochondriac, hyper-sensitive, and reclusive in later life, Lovecraft survived on a dwindling inheritance and never achieved much recognition. But in death, he has spawned a formidable cult who immerse themselves in a universe created from references to the occult, demonology, and various mythological archetypes. However overwrought his prose, Lovecraft’s work can be situated in a long literary tradition of influence, and a Lovecraft circle continued to expand his vision of scientific and supernatural horror after his death.

Central to the Lovecraft cosmos are “The Old Ones,” a collection of powerful primordial beings, and their cult worshipers, first introduced in “The Call of Cthulhu” in 1926. At the top of the post, you can hear a dramatic reading of the story by Garrick Hagon. Just above hear a radio dramatization of “The Colour Out of Space,” which was collected in The Best American Short Stories in 1928, one of the few of Lovecraft’s works to receive such an honor in his lifetime. You’ll find much more Lovecraft read aloud on YouTube, including classic stories like “The Dunwich Horror,” “At The Mountains of Madness,” and “The Horror at Red Hook.”

Listening to Lovecraft is an excellent, as well as convenient, way to experience his work. His florid, often archaic, and melodramatic descriptions lend themselves perfectly to aural interpretations. Luckily for us, we have not one, but two audio book collections of nearly everything Lovecraft ever wrote. Just above, stream his complete public domain works, and see the Internet Archive for another audiobook set of his collected works. One of the reasons audio of Lovecraft is so plentiful is that most of his work is in the commons. SFF Audio has yet another huge collection of Lovecraft stories read aloud, downloadable as MP3s. Finally, if you somehow can’t find what you’re looking for at any of those links, you’re bound to at The World’s Largest H.P. Lovecraft Audio Links Gateway.

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Should listening to Lovecraft whet your appetite for more, you may just be ready to start reading. Although Lovecraft’s fiction features what may be some of modern literature’s most dreadful monsters, the horror in his work is mostly existential, as characters confront a vast, malevolent and thoroughly alien universe that has no regard for human life whatsoever. But the persistent bleakness and doom of his vision is countered by an inexhaustibly rich imagination. In one of the opening sentences of “The Call of Cthulu,” Lovecraft writes, “the most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents,” perhaps the truest description of his own fictional cosmos. Lovecraft scholars and fans spend lifetimes sifting through his massive storehouse of weirdness. Whether you’re inclined to join them in the deep end, or just dip in a toe, you can find all of Lovecraft’s published work in various forms at the locations below.

Given these resources, you should have no trouble becoming a Lovecraft expert by Halloween. Or, at the very least, picking out a few of his scariest stories to listen to and read aloud around a flickering jack o’ lantern or your collection of Cthulhu figurines.

Lovecraft’s works permanently reside in our twin collections: 550 Free Audio Books: Download Great Books for Free and 600 Free eBooks for iPad, Kindle & Other Devices

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

All of H.P. Lovecraft’s Classic Horror Stories Free Online: Download Audio Books, eBooks & More 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.

The post All of H.P. Lovecraft’s Classic Horror Stories Free Online: Download Audio Books, eBooks & More appeared first on Open Culture.

Morgan Spurlock, Werner Herzog & Other Stars Explain Economic Theory in 20 Short Films

Thu, 23 Oct 2014 - 5:00 am
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9gMZRcC36o

Morgan Spurlock is a filmmaker who has long found catchy ways of getting his point across. For his breakout movie, Super Size Me (available on Hulu), he sought to illustrate just how truly awful fast food is for you by subsisting solely on McDonald’s for a month. His diet literally almost killed him. Not long after the movie came out, McDonald’s started adding more healthy options to its menu. In POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, Spurlock looked to make a documentary about product placement in movies by financing the doc entirely through product placement. (That movie gets pretty meta fast.) And most recently, Spurlock has launched We The Economy: 20 Short Films You Can’t Afford To Miss. As you might surmise, the series tries to explain economics to the masses by releasing 20 short films made by a host of different stars and filmmakers, including Amy Poehler, Tony Hale, Sarah Silverman and Maya. The whole project will be released in theaters and on VOD but the shorts have also been released in advance on Youtube. You can watch Spurlock’s segment, called “Cave-o-nomics,” above. Seeking to answer the question “What is an economy?” Spurlock dresses up as a caveman struggling to increase his material wealth by swapping spears for meat.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUkXMZ0vtBE

The clear stand out of the bunch, however, is Ramin Bahrani’s “Lemonade War.” Bahami tackles the potentially dreary issue of business regulation by telling a tale of two rival lemonade stands. One is run by a corrupt slob – played by Patton Oswalt — and the other is run by a whip smart ten-year-old girl. Though the girl doesn’t have the money or connections that her rival has, she more than makes up for it with moxie and business acumen. This, sadly, proves to be not enough. When she calls the government regulator about some of her rival’s truly unhygienic practices, she discovers the regulator is in her competition’s pocket and soon she’s driven out of business. Things look hopeless for her until a neighborhood hero, played by none other than Werner Herzog (!), comes to her rescue. With the little girl in tow, he confronts the slob and regulator with his trademark malevolent Teutonic lilt. “If Mr. Smith could go to Washington today,” he declares, “he would filibuster you back into your big bang wormhole you have slithered out of.” The two simply cower in the face of Herzog’s Old Testament wrath. If only Herzog could deliver similar fusillades against the board of Goldman Sachs.

You can watch more segments of We The Economy here — or find them in our collection, 700 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc..

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Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veeptopus, featuring lots of pictures of vice presidents with octopuses on their heads.  The Veeptopus store is here.

Morgan Spurlock, Werner Herzog & Other Stars Explain Economic Theory in 20 Short Films 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.

The post Morgan Spurlock, Werner Herzog & Other Stars Explain Economic Theory in 20 Short Films appeared first on Open Culture.

H.G. Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle & Other British Authors Sign Manifesto Backing England’s Role in WWI

Thu, 23 Oct 2014 - 1:00 am

Thinkers have said a great deal about the relative might of the pen and the sword—often one well-known phrase in particular—but still, the subject of intellect versus might remains a matter of active inquiry. But what if might harnesses intellect? What if those who live by the pen pick up their writing tool of choice to endorse the national use of weaponry infinitely more powerful than all the swords ever forged? This very thing happened in the Britain of 1914: “FAMOUS AUTHORS DEFEND ENGLAND’S WAR,” read the headlines, and University of Ottawa English professor Nick Milne has more historical analysis of the event in the first post of “Pen and Sword,” a series focusing on British Propaganda at the open educational resource World War I Centenary: Continuations and Beginnings.

“In September of 1914,” writes Milne in a version of the post up at Slate, “as the armies of Europe were engaged in the Race to the Sea and the stalemate of the trenches loomed, Rudyard Kipling, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and other British authors collaborated on a remarkable piece of war propaganda. Fifty-three of the leading authors in Britain — a number that included Thomas Hardy and H.G. Wells — appended their names to the ‘Authors’ Declaration.’ This manifesto declared that the German invasion of Belgium had been a brutal crime, and that Britain ‘could not without dishonour have refused to take part in the present war.'” Other men of letters the War Propaganda Bureau could convince to sign on, in addition to Kipling, a fellow rarely called insufficiently patriotic, included “defender of unorthodox thought by unorthodox methods” G.K. Chesterton.

You can take a close-up look at the complete list of signatories with their brief bios, as well as the signatures themselves, by clicking at the image of the New York Times page up above. (Then click again to zoom in.) England may not, in the event, have lost the First World War, but the buoyancy its writers provided its fighting spirit had little to do with it. Germany “responded to the declaration by bringing together an even larger assortment of artists, authors, and scientists to sign the Manifesto of the Ninety-Three, an astounding document which denied any German wrongdoing in Belgium and bewilderingly accused the Allies of ‘inciting Mongolians and negroes against the white race.'”

Several of the British writers involved, most notably H.G. Wells, eventually developed a public cynicism toward the war. “The unity of vision and purpose the declaration so strongly implied,” as Milne mildly puts it, “did not endure.”

via Slate

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Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

H.G. Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle & Other British Authors Sign Manifesto Backing England’s Role in WWI 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.

The post H.G. Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle & Other British Authors Sign Manifesto Backing England’s Role in WWI appeared first on Open Culture.

Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey Gets a Brand New Trailer to Celebrate Its Digital Re-Release

Wed, 22 Oct 2014 - 5:12 pm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfF0vxKZRhc

If you’re in the UK, get ready for Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. 46 years after its original release, it’s returning to theatres near you in a digitally-restored format, starting on November 18. (Find dates and locations here.) To celebrate the re-release of this “philosophically ambitious, technically innovative and visually stunning cinematic milestone,” the British Film Institute has created a new trailer (above). Down below, we have the original 1968 trailer (which I prefer) and some good background items on the film itself.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8TABIFAN4o

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Stanley Kubrick’s Very First Films: Three Short Documentaries

Rare 1960s Audio: Stanley Kubrick’s Big Interview with The New Yorker

Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey Gets a Brand New Trailer to Celebrate Its Digital Re-Release 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.

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Download The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe: Macabre Stories as Free eBooks & Audio Books

Wed, 22 Oct 2014 - 5:00 pm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLSmhpwLdEQ

With Halloween fast approaching, let us remind you that few American writers can get you into the existentially chilling spirit of this climatically chilling season than Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849). And given that he lived and wrote entirely in the first half of the 19th century, few American writers can do it at so little financial cost to you, the reader. Today we’ve collected Poe’s freely available, public domain works of pure psychological unsettlement into five volumes of eBooks:

And five volumes of audiobooks as well (all the better to work their way into your subconscious):

And if, beyond perhaps reading here and there about pits, pendulums, ravens, and casks in Italy, you’ve never plunged into the canon produced by this troubled master of letters — American Romantic, acknowledged adept of the macabre, inventor of detective fiction, and contributor to the eventual emergence of science fiction — your chance has come. If you feel the understandable need for a lighter preliminary introduction to Poe’s work, hear Christopher Walken (speaking of American icons) deliver a surprisingly non-excessively Walkenified interpretation of “The Raven” at the top of the post. Below, we have a 1953 animation of “The Tell-Tale Heart” narrated by James Mason:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4s9V8aQu4c

After watching these videos, you’ll surely want to spend Halloween time catching up on everything else Poe wrote, after which you’ll understand that true scariness arises not from slasher movies, malevolent pumpkins, or tales of hooks embedded in car doors, but from the sort of thing the closed-eyed narrator of “The Pit and the Pendulum” means when he says, “It was not that I feared to look upon things horrible, but that I grew aghast lest there should be nothing to see.”

The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe permanently reside in our twin collections: 550 Free Audio Books: Download Great Books for Free and 600 Free eBooks for iPad, Kindle & Other Devices

Related Content:

Watch the 1953 Animation of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” Narrated by James Mason

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Watch Goethe’s Haunting Poem, “Der Erlkönig,” Presented in an Artful Sand Animation

“A Haunted House” by Virginia Woolf

Watch Nosferatu, the Seminal Vampire Film, Free Online (1922)

Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Download The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe: Macabre Stories as Free eBooks & Audio Books 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.

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Rick Rubin Revisits the Origins of Def Jam Records & the NYU Dorm Room Where It All Began

Wed, 22 Oct 2014 - 11:25 am
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBHADseIs-w

There may have been no more influential a label in the late 1980s than Def Jam Records. Founded by Rick Rubin, Def Jam launched the careers of The Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, and dozens more hip-hop pioneers. But its beginnings were humble. The earliest Def Jam releases list the mailing address as “5 University Pl. #712.” Current and former NYU students out there may recognize this address—it’s a dorm room in the university’s Weinstein Residence Hall, where in 1984, Rubin set up shop and began trying to reproduce the sound, as Rolling Stone writes, of “the raw performances he heard in clubs and the wild parties he threw.”

In the short Rolling Stone documentary above, “Rick Was Here,” see the pioneering producer revisit his origins, returning to his old dorm for the first time in 30 years. He talks about the “very specific feeling” of early hip-hop, and his desire to shift the focus of hip-hop records from R&B backing tracks to the DJ, who was all-important in live performances. Def Jam’s first release, T La Rock and Jazzy Jay’s “It’s Yours,” remains a classic of the genre. At the time, says Rubin, “it didn’t sound like anything else,” and through that record, Rubin met Russell Simmons, already “a big fish in the small pond of hip hop.” Simmons brought along a host of artists and gave Rubin more credibility in the community. Now the two are superproducers and moguls, but their origin story is one of scrappy determination that sparked a musical revolution.

The short film also features interviews with Simmons, LL Cool J, the Beastie Boys’ Adam Horowitz, and some of Rubin’s former dorm-mates and accomplices. For more on Def Jam’s early years, MetaFilter points us toward the history Def Jam Recordings: The First 35 Years of the Last Great Record Label and Russell Simmons’ autobiography Life and Def: Sex, Drugs, Money, + God.

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

Rick Rubin Revisits the Origins of Def Jam Records & the NYU Dorm Room Where It All Began 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.

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The Groundbreaking Art of Alex Steinweiss, Father of Record Cover Design

Wed, 22 Oct 2014 - 8:36 am

Given the visual perfection and ubiquity of album covers by designers like Storm Thorgerson and Peter Saville—given the popularity of blogs featuring monumentally bad album covers—it’s hard to feature a time when records came wrapped in plain brown paper like cheap booze or covered in nondescript bindings like business ledgers. But this was the case, before another widely admired designer, Alex Steinweiss, more or less invented the album cover in 1939 at the age of 22.

There had been cover art before, during the age of the 78 rpm record, but only for the rare special release. Most music came stamped with its contents and little else. Initially contracted by Columbia Records to produce better jackets for the unwieldy 78, Steinweiss soon became the label’s art director and convinced them to try out several full color designs inspired by French and German modernist poster art. When Columbia released the first vinyl LP in 1948, Steinweiss not only designed the cover, but he invented the paperboard jacket that still surrounds records today.

You can see a few of Steinweiss’ covers for classical and jazz albums here. At the top of the post, see that first LP cover, for a recording of Grieg’s Violin Concerto in E Minor. The design may seem pretty restrained, but Steinweiss quickly broadened his palette. Just below the Grieg cover is a classic design for the jazz compilation Boogie Woogie, and just above, we have a colorful block design for a Gershwin album. Steinweiss also drew inspiration from abstract expressionist painters like Wassily Kandinsky, as you can see in the Bartok cover below.

Steinweiss’ designs were extremely popular and sent record sales soaring. In one instance, Newsweek reported that sales of a recording of Beethoven’s “Eroica” symphony “increased 895% with its new Steinweiss cover.” A savvy, fearless artist, Steinweiss left the field with the same ease and grace with which he’d entered it. After designing album covers, movie posters, and graphics for “countless other products” for 33 years, writes Jeff Newelt for the Art Directors Club, Steinweiss retired to become a painter, “noting the rise of Swiss Modernism and minimalism, and the increasing preference for photography in the field” of graphic design. While Steinweiss wasn’t afraid to incorporate photos into his designs on occasion—as you can see in a 1940 Bessie Smith cover below—it was the rare occasion. Mostly what interested him were bold colors and geometrical shapes.

Though it’s certain that someone would have come along and created record covers eventually, it’s hard to underestimate the tremendous influence Steinweiss had on the form—the way his work has guided our experience of staring in awe at a mysterious album cover, even in the MP3 age, and trying to imagine the kind of music it describes. For much, much more on Steinweiss, you could purchase this enormous, and enormously expensive, Taschen book. Or save a few bucks and browse through some extensive online collections of his work, like this Steinweiss tribute site, this six part biography, and the Birka Jazz Archive from Columbia, which also features iconic covers by such artists as Jim Flora, Neil Fujita, and Saul Bass. Steven Heller, who teaches at the School of Visual Arts in NYC, presents a talk on Steinweiss’ art here.

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

The Groundbreaking Art of Alex Steinweiss, Father of Record Cover Design 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.

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Watch The Simpsons’ Halloween Parody of Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange and The Shining

Wed, 22 Oct 2014 - 1:00 am

For the past 25 years, the highlight of every season of The Simpsons has been its Treehouse of Horror Halloween special – an omnibus episode filled with morbid, and frequently hilarious, horror spoofs. It’s the one time of the year when the creators of the long running series feel comfortable with disemboweling Homer, flaying Marge, and letting Maggie wield an axe. Arguably the best one of these segments was its 1994 parody of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining – called “The Shinning”. This year, The Simpsons return to riffing on Kubrick in a segment called “A Clockwork Yellow.” You can watch a section of it above.

The episode centers on cankerous bartender Moe Szyslak as the bowler-bedecked Alex who, along with Lenny, Carl and Homer (playing Dim, of course), spouts nonsense Nadsat and terrorizes London. When they decide to break into a house, Moe and the gang end up crashing an Eyes Wide Shut-style orgy hosted by Mr. Burns. From there, the Kubrick references start flying thick and fast, with nods to Full Metal Jacket, 2001: A Space Odyssey and even Barry Lyndon (“Even I forget what this is in reference to”). And then a scene cuts to a Simpsonfied version of Kubrick, watching the segment from an editing bay. “Let’s burn this,” he bellows at an assistant. “Let’s rewrite everything. And let’s start all over.”

The full episode is available on Hulu Plus, if you have a subscription. If not, you can watch it for free after October 27th. And you can watch a portion of “The Shinning” below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yGJGTjV2WE

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Fear and Desire: Stanley Kubrick’s First and Least-Seen Feature Film (1953)

Stanley Kubrick’s Daughter Shares Photos of Herself Growing Up on Her Father’s Film Sets

Stanley Kubrick’s List of Top 10 Films (The First and Only List He Ever Created)

Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veeptopus, featuring lots of pictures of vice presidents with octopuses on their heads.  The Veeptopus store is here.

Watch The Simpsons’ Halloween Parody of Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange and The Shining 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.

The post Watch The Simpsons’ Halloween Parody of Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange and The Shining appeared first on Open Culture.

Are You a Psychopath? Take the Test (And, If You Fail, It’s Not All Bad News)

Tue, 21 Oct 2014 - 2:50 pm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUsGDVOCLVQ

We’ve all heard the old philosophical scenario known as the trolley problem: as the runaway vehicle of the name careens out of control toward the edge of a cliff, you must choose whether to pull the lever to switch it to another track. The catch: while the trolley would then no longer plunge off that cliff, bringing about the certain deaths of the five people aboard, it would instead kill someone standing on the other track, who will survive if you don’t pull the lever. In a more fraught version of the problem, you must choose not whether to pull a lever, but whether to shove a person of considerable bulk onto the (single) track, stopping the trolley but killing the bulky individual.

In the Big Think video above, Oxford psychologist Kevin Dutton, author of The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success, uses the trolley problem to illuminate the condition of psychopathy. While non-psychopaths may dither about the first version of the scenario, they eventually come to the conclusion that they prefer one death to five. They have much more of a struggle with the second version, which requires them to actually push the lone stranger to head off those five deaths. Psychopaths, by contrast, experience no such difficulty: the trolley problem, for them, hardly amounts to a problem at all, and Dutton explains, neuroscientifically, why: “Imagine that I were to hook you up to a brain scanner and present you with those two dilemmas. I would see the emotion center of your brain, your amygdala and related brain circuits, the medial orbital frontal cortex for example, light up like a pinball machine.”

And if he’d scanned a psychopath? “Precisely nothing.” All this assumes, of course, that you do not yourself suffer from psychopathy. If you don’t know whether you do, Dutton offers a handy multiple-choice “psychopath challenge” on his site that can give you an idea of the direction your brain may lean. If you’ve got a touch of the old psychopathy, don’t lock yourself away; as Dutton explains in this Time interview, “you don’t need to be violent,” and you can even attain greater success in certain fields than non-psychopathics — especially if you consider vigilantly and unhesitatingly minimizing the death tolls at diverted cliffside trolley tracks a field.

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Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Are You a Psychopath? Take the Test (And, If You Fail, It’s Not All Bad News) 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.

The post Are You a Psychopath? Take the Test (And, If You Fail, It’s Not All Bad News) appeared first on Open Culture.

Different From the Others (1919): The First Gay Rights Movie Ever … Later Destroyed by the Nazis

Tue, 21 Oct 2014 - 10:50 am
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJHlH19hbJo

From Albert Kinsey, to Sigmund Freud, to Magnus Hirschfeld, prominent social scientists have offered dissenting opinions to prevailing mainstream ideas about homosexuality as a consequence of parental or societal influences. This doesn’t mean those researchers have agreed with each other, or with current ideas, but their conclusions were controversial and startling to a consensus often complicit in the criminalization and political repression of gays and lesbians. If you haven’t heard the last name on that list above, there’s probably a good reason: Hirschfeld—a gay, Jewish physician, sexologist, and advocate in Weimar Germany—had much of his work burned by the Nazis in their 1933 rise to power.

One of Hirschfeld’s works destroyed in Nazi fires was a film he co-wrote and co-starred in called Different From the Others, the first gay rights movie in history. Released in 1919, and banned in 1920, the film explored a doomed relationship between a violinist, played by silent star Conrad Veidt, and his student. Extensive flashback scenes show both characters’ early sexual experiences, their failed attempts to change their sexual orientation (including treatment with bogus “ex-gay” therapies), and their eventual self-acceptance. In their present day, the couple is openly affectionate, until the violinist is blackmailed and dragged into court by an extortionist, then abandoned by his friends and family. He commits suicide, and his lover vows to fight the law that criminalized homosexuality in Germany, known as Paragraph 175.

Different From the Others would be lost to history were it not for Hirschfeld’s preservation of 40 minutes of footage in a separate documentary. You can view the surviving film above, with English title cards. The film was part of a didactic series on themes of sexuality that Hirschfeld made with director Richard Oswald. In each one, Hirschfeld appears as a doctor who intervenes on behalf of persecuted individuals. In Different from the Others, he does so with the violinist’s parents, telling them, “You must not condemn your son because he is a homosexual, he is not to blame for his orientation. It is not wrong, nor should it be a crime. Indeed, it is not even an illness, merely a variation, and one that is common to all of nature.”

In many other such scenes, most of them now lost, Hirschfeld explicitly states his argument that, as The New York Times writes, “homophobia, not homosexuality, was a scourge of society.” The then-radical point of view found little contemporary support—screenings were restricted solely to medical practitioners and lawyers until the film’s destruction—but it makes this artifact of tremendous interest to film historians and activists today. In addition to Hirschfeld’s pioneering activism, the film is notable for starring Viedt, who went on to fame for his role in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

Despite its many lacunae and entire missing scenes, and characters, Different From the Others is currently being restored and turned into an expanded, “watchable feature,” using the surviving remnants, along with found photos and film stills, by the Outfest-UCLA Legacy Project (see their fully-funded Kickstarter here). Many scenes—such as a lengthy theoretical lecture by Hirschfeld—will be reconstructed from a synopsis, “a few reviews, and little else.” “You’re not seeing the original,” admits UCLA Film & Television Archive director Jan-Christopher Horek of the coming reconstruction, “because we don’t know what the original looks like.” Nevertheless, in whatever form, Different From the Others represents a perspective at least “50 years ahead of its time,” says Horak, with an “enlightened theory that you wouldn’t see in this country probably until the ‘70s or ‘80s.”

Different from the Others will be added to our list of Great Silent Films, part of our larger collection, 700 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc..

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

Different From the Others (1919): The First Gay Rights Movie Ever … Later Destroyed by the Nazis 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.

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Lynda Barry, Cartoonist Turned Professor, Gives Her Old Fashioned Take on the Future of Education

Tue, 21 Oct 2014 - 8:00 am
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZleAvAv1Yg

With college tuitions ballooning to the point of implosion, and free educational content proliferating online, the future of education is a scorching hot topic.

So where are we heading?

Coursera and Khan AcademyVideo game-based curricula? Experience-driven microlearning?

Or school buildings that moonlight as candy?

So suggested one of the younger participants in a workshop led by the University of Wisconsin’s Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Creativity, cartoonist and author Lynda Barry (aka Professor Long-Title).

Barry’s messianic embrace of the arts has proved popular with students of all ages. When the university’s Counterfactual Drawing Board Project invited faculty, staff, and others to consider what the “appearance, purpose, atmosphere and community of the campus” would be like in 100 years time, Barry deliberately widened the pool to include children.

Yes, their innovations tended toward volcano schools that erupt at dismissal, but presumably some of those same children will be in the vanguard when it’s time for initiatives that seem unimaginable now to be implemented. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and all that.

Or as one gimlet-eyed youth put it, in a hundred years “the teachers will all be dead.”

No wonder few adult participants can see past a button-driven, hermetically sealed, digital future wherein every student has a chip implanted in his or her head.

Barry, no stranger to depression, manages to laugh such gloomy forecasts off, despite what they portend for the tactile, handmade ephemera she reveres. A sense of humor—and humanity—is at the core of every educational reform she practices.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhOU6HUjL6Y

Rather than rip each other’s writing to shreds during in-class critiques, her students call each other by outlandish pseudonyms and draw meditative spirals as each others’ work is read aloud. Every reader is assured of a hearty “good!” from the teacher. She wants them to keep going, you see.

Surely there are institutions where this approach might not fly, but why poo-poo it? Isn’t fueling the creative spirit a practical investment in the future?

“It’s there in everybody,” Barry believes. “You have to give people an experience of it, a repeated experience of it that they generate themselves.”

Maybe someday, some kid who hasn’t had the love of learning squelched out of him or her will apply all that creativity toward curing cancer. That’d be great, huh? At worst, that carefully tended spark can give solace in the dark days ahead. As fans of Barry’s work well know, art exists to carry us through times of “sorrow and grief and trouble.”

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Lynda Barry, Cartoonist Turned Professor, Gives Her Old Fashioned Take on the Future of Education 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.

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Pablo Picasso’s Two Favorite Recipes: Eel Stew & Omelette Tortilla Niçoise

Tue, 21 Oct 2014 - 4:15 am

Back in 1964, Pablo Picasso shared with Vogue’s food columnist Ninette Lyon two of his favorite recipes — one for Eel Stew, the other for Omelette Tortilla Niçoise. If you live in the South of France, as Picasso did, the recipes probably won’t be entirely foreign to you. But if you aren’t so lucky, you might want to add these recipes, now reprinted by Vogue, to your culinary bucket list.

Below, we’ve highlighted the ingredients for the recipes. But, for step-by-step directions on how to prepare the dishes, head over to Vogue itself.

For more recipes from cultural icons — Hemingway, Tolstoy, Alice B. Toklas, Jane Austen, David Lynch, Miles Davis, etc. — head to the bottom of this page.

Eel Stew for Four People

6 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons butter
12 small white onions
1 teaspoon sugar
2 yellow onions, chopped
12 mushrooms
⅓ pound salt pork, cubed
2 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 eels of about 1 pound each, cut into four- to five-inch sections
1 bottle of good red wine
1 tablespoon flour
Salt, pepper, cayenne pepper
Bouquet garni: thyme, bay leaf, parsley, fennel, and a small branch of celery

Omelette Tortilla Niçoise for Four People
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion
4 peppers, red and green
3 tomatoes
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
8 eggs
Salt and pepper

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Alice B. Toklas Reads Her Famous Recipe for Hashish Fudge (1963)

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The Recipes of Iconic Authors: Jane Austen, Sylvia Plath, Roald Dahl, the Marquis de Sade & More

Pablo Picasso’s Two Favorite Recipes: Eel Stew & Omelette Tortilla Niçoise 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.

The post Pablo Picasso’s Two Favorite Recipes: Eel Stew & Omelette Tortilla Niçoise appeared first on Open Culture.

Google Makes Available 750 Icons for Designers & Developers: All Open Source 

Tue, 21 Oct 2014 - 12:16 am

If you’re a designer or developer, Kottke.org thought you’d might like to know: “As part of their Material Design visual language, Google has open-sourced a package of 750 icons. More info here.”

Over at Github, you can view a live preview of the icons or download the icon pack now.

Our friends at BoingBoing add, “They’re licensed CC-BY-SA and designed for use in mobile apps and other interactive stuff.” Use them well.

 

Google Makes Available 750 Icons for Designers & Developers: All Open Source  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.

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Hear The Flaming Lips Cover All of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s: Streaming Free for a Limited Time

Mon, 20 Oct 2014 - 7:22 pm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3UWO6vQXYIk

In 2012, Rolling Stone issued a revised list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, at the very top of which sits The Beatles’ 1967 recordSgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Justifying making the album its number one pick, Rolling Stone wrote:

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is the most important rock & roll album ever made, an unsurpassed adventure in concept, sound, songwriting, cover art and studio technology by the greatest rock & roll group of all time. From the title song’s regal blasts of brass and fuzz guitar to the orchestral seizure and long, dying piano chord at the end of “A Day in the Life,” the 13 tracks on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band are the pinnacle of the Beatles’ eight years as recording artists. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr were never more fearless and unified in their pursuit of magic and transcendence….

Sgt. Pepper formally ushered in an unforgettable season of hope, upheaval and achievement: the late 1960s and, in particular, 1967’s Summer of Love. In its iridescent instrumentation, lyric fantasias and eye-popping packaging, Sgt. Pepper defined the opulent revolutionary optimism of psychedelia and instantly spread the gospel of love, acid, Eastern spirituality and electric guitars around the globe. No other pop record of that era, or since, has had such an immediate, titanic impact. This music documents the world’s biggest rock band at the very height of its influence and ambition.

Given Sgt. Pepper’s iconic status, it’s hard to imagine a contemporary band deciding to cover the entire album. (Can you really improve upon it?) But that’s just what The Flaming Lips have done with With a Little Help From My Fwends. Scheduled to be released next week, the album features contributions by fwends like Moby, My Morning Jacket, Miley Cyrus, and others. Proceeds from the album — which is now streaming free for a limited time at NPR — will go to the Bella Foundation, a non-profit that assists low-income, elderly or terminally ill pet owners with the cost of veterinary care when it cannot be afforded. You can pre-order the Flaming Lips album on Amazon and iTunes.

In other news, Paul McCartney announced today that he has unearthed a Wings’ song he played (back in the day) with John Bonham on drums. An intriguing idea. Catch it here.

Hear The Flaming Lips Cover All of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s: Streaming Free for a Limited Time 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.

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Steven Pinker Identifies 10 Breakable Grammatical Rules: “Who” Vs. “Whom,” Dangling Modifiers & More

Mon, 20 Oct 2014 - 2:00 pm

We’ve previously featured Harvard cognitive scientist Steven Pinker discussing writing at a Harvard conference on the subject. In that case, the focus was narrowly on academic writing, which, he has uncontroversially claimed, “stinks.” Now—“not content with just poaching” in the land of the scribes, writes Charles McGrath at The New York Times Sunday Book Review—Pinker has dared to “set himself up as a gamekeeper” with a new book—The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century. The grandiose title suggests to McGrath that the scientist intends to supplant that most venerable, and most dated, classic writer’s text by Strunk and White. He’s gone from chiding his fellow scholars to writing prescriptions for us all.

But if this seems out of bounds, wait until you hear what he suggests. Instead of issuing even more seemingly arbitrary, burdensome commands, Pinker aims to free us from the tyranny of the senseless in grammar—or, as he calls it in an article at The Guardian, from “folklore and superstition.” Below are five of the ten “common issues of grammar” Pinker selects “from those that repeatedly turn up in style guides, pet-peeve lists, newspaper language columns and irate letters to the editor.” In each case, he explains the absurdity of strict adherence and offers several perfectly reasonable exceptions that require no correction to clarify their meaning.

  1. Beginning sentences with conjunctions

We have almost certainly all been taught in some fashion or another that this is a no-no. “That’s because teachers need a simple way” to teach children “how to break sentences.” The “rule,” Pinker says, is “misinformation” and “inappropriate for adults.” He cites only two examples here, both using the conjunction “because”: Johnny Cash’s “Because you’re mine, I walk the line,” and the stock parental non-answer, “Because I said so.” And yet (see what I did?), other conjunctions, like “and,” “but,” “yet,” and “so” may also “be used to begin a sentence whenever the clauses being connected are too long or complicated to fit comfortably into a single megasentence.”

  1. Dangling modifiers

Having taught English composition for several years, and thus having read several hundred scrambled student essays, I find this one difficult to concede. The dangling modifier—an especially easy error to make when writing quickly—too easily creates confusion or downright unintelligibility. Pinker does admit since the subjects of dangling modifiers “are inherently ambiguous,” they might sometimes “inadvertently attract a reader to the wrong choice, as in ‘When a small boy, a girl is of little interest.’” But, he says, this is not a grammatical error. Here are a few “danglers” he suggests as “perfectly acceptable”:

“Checking into the hotel, it was nice to see a few of my old classmates in the lobby.”

“Turning the corner, the view was quite different.”

“In order to contain the epidemic, the area was sealed off.”

  1. Who and Whom

I once had a student ask me if “whom” was an archaic affectation that would make her writing sound forced and unnatural. I had to admit she had an excellent point, no matter what our overpriced textbook said. In most cases, even if correctly used, whom can indeed sound “formal verging on pompous.” Though they seem straightforward enough, “the rules for its proper use,” writes Pinker, “are obscure to many speakers, tempting them to drop ‘whom’ into their speech whenever they want to sound posh,” and to generally use the word incorrectly. Despite “a century of nagging by prescriptive grammarians,” the distinction between “who” and “whom” seems anything but simple, and so one’s use of it—as with any tricky word or usage—should be carefully calibrated “to the complexity of the construction and the degree of formality” the writing calls for. Put plainly, know how you’re using “whom” and why, or stick with the unobjectionable “who.”

  1. Very unique

Oftentimes we find the most innocuous-sounding, common sense usages called out by uptight pedants as ungrammatical when there’s no seeming reason why they should be. The phrase “very unique,” a description that may not strike you as excessively weird or backward, happens to be “one of the commonest insults to the sensibility of the purist.” This is because, such narrow thinkers claim, as with other categorical expressions like “absolute” or “incomparable,” something either is or it isn’t, in the same way that one either is or isn’t pregnant: “referring to degrees of uniqueness is meaningless,” says the logic, in the case of absolute adjectives. Of course, it seems to me that one can absolutely refer to degrees of pregnancy. In any case, writes Pinker, “uniqueness is not like pregnancy [...]; it must be defined relative to some scale of measurement.” Hence, “very unique,” makes sense, he says. But you should avoid it on aesthetic grounds. “’Very,’” he says, “is a soggy modifier in the best of circumstances.” How about “rather unique?” Too posh-sounding?

  1. That and which

I breathed an audible sigh on encountering this one, because it’s a rule I find particularly irksome. Of note is that Pinker, an American, is writing in The Guardian, a British publication, where things are much more relaxed for these two relative pronouns. In U.S. usage, “which” is reserved for nonrestrictive—or optional clauses: “The pair of shoes, which cost five thousand dollars, was hideous.” For restrictive clauses, those “essential to the meaning of the sentence,” we use “that.” Pinker takes the example of a sentence in a documentary on “Imelda Marcos’s vast shoe collection.” In such a case, of course, we would need that bit about the price; hence, “The pair of shoes that cost £5,000 was hideous.”

It’s a reasonable enough distinction, and “one part of the rule,” Pinker says, “is correct.” We would rarely find someone writing “The pair of shoes, that cost £5,000…” after all. It probably looks awkward to our eyes (though I’ve seen it often enough). But there’s simply no good reason, he says, why we can’t use “which” freely, as the Brits already do, to refer to things both essential and non-. “Great writers have been using it for centuries,” Pinker points out, citing whoever (or “whomever”) translated that “render unto Caesar” bit in the King James Bible and Franklin Roosevelt’s “a day which will live in infamy.” QED, I’d say. And anyway, “which” is so much lovelier a word than “that.”

See Pinker’s Guardian piece for his other five anti-rules and free yourself up to write in a more natural, less stilted way. That is, if you already have some mastery of basic English. As Pinker rightly observes, “anyone who has read an inept student paper [um-hm], a bad Google translation, or an interview with George W. Bush can appreciate that standards of usage are desirable in many areas of communication.” How do we know when a rule is useful and when it impedes “clear and graceful prose?” It’s really no mystery, Pinker says. “Look it up.” It sounds like his book might help put things into better perspective than most writing guides, however. You can also hear him discuss his accessible and intuitive writing advice in the KQED interview with Michael Krasny above.

Related Content:

Steven Pinker Uses Theories from Evolutionary Biology to Explain Why Academic Writing is So Bad

Steven Pinker Explains the Neuroscience of Swearing (NSFW)

Steven Pinker: “Dear Humanists, Science is Not Your Enemy”

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

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