Saturday, 1 September 2012

10 of the weird and wonderful for Saturday's reading

The Signing of the United Nations Charter
via UN Pulse from U.N. Dag Hammarskjöld Library

The Signing of the United Nations Charter
On June 26, 1945, delegates from 50 countries, representing eighty per cent of the world's, lined up to affix their names on a document that would forever change the international relations and provide hope for a peaceful world – the United Nations Charter. The Dag Hammarskjöld Library will be profiling eyewitness accounts of those involved with the creation of the Charter and the 1945 San Francisco Conference in the UN Oral History website in an effort to highlight the importance of this historic event.
Continue reading here and enjoy a typical librarian’s view of a subject – loads of links and cross-references!!

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
“The Van Gogh religion” grew when the artist’s self-doubt became symptomatic of the culture. Now doubts plague the works themselves... more

How to: Use a squat toilet
via Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker

Image: Squat toilet, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from jiahungli's photostream
In 2007, my husband and I were privileged enough to take a month off and travel around Europe. Given that we spent most of our time in Western Europe, there really wasn’t a whole lot of cultural confusion, with a few notable exceptions*. Chief among them, the squat toilets we stumbled across at a very inconvenient moment in Italy. “Inconvenient moment” here defined as “actually having to use the bathroom”.
My friend Frank Bures is a travel writer and he understands the squat toilet problem all too well. Frank is, after all, somebody who has traveled extensively in places where squat is all you got. In a piece from 2006, he shares some hard-earned advice on squat toilets. How I wish I had read this before my venturing into small towns in coastal Italy.
Continue reading here

Industrial Light & Magic: 1915
via Shorpy Historical Photo Archive - Vintage Fine Art Prints by Dave
Industrial Light & Magic: 1915
Wyandotte, Michigan, circa 1915
“Foundry, Detroit Shipbuilding Co”
8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company
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Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
What was the telephone call? Yes, “was”. Talking on the phone is so passé. You have to do that whole chit-chat thing... more

Husbands, Scouring the Toilet Will Make You Happier… Really
via Big Think by Pamela Haag
New research out of Cambridge University in the UK finds that husbands who do household chores are happier and experience greater wellbeing. This finding surprised the researchers, who hypothesized that wives, not husbands, would be happier if their husbands did chores.
Read More

The history of margarine
via Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker

Image: CWS Gold Seal Margarine. Co-op magazine advert, 1960, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from sludgeulper’s photostream
Writer Christine Baumgarthuber has a really interesting article in the June issue of Dissent magazine about what working-class Victorians ate, and how their diets (and health) changed with the introduction of relative convenience foods, cheaper sugar, and margarine. I don’t know the cultural history of food – or the medical history of changes in public health – well enough to know whether Baumgarthuber’s piece represents a full, nuanced perspective. (Dissent is a well-written and frequently interesting magazine, but it can't really be called an unbiased source.) But I did want to share a short bit from that article about the invention of margarine, which is absolutely fascinating:
Continue reading Maggie’s blog post here
Read the full story at Dissent
Via Alexis Madrigal

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
What conditions give rise to great artistic achievements? Wealth, urban centers, belief in God. Wait: What? Secularism is incompatible with creativity?... more

National Trust audio tour of Soho London’s darker side
via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz
The UK’s National Trust has released a free smartphone audio tour of London’s Soho that apparently focuses on the neighbourhood’s bohemian, vice, and criminal roots that sprouted with the emergence of the jazz scene in the late 1940s. It’s part of the National Trust’s efforts to seem, er, hip.
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From The Telegraph (CC-licensed photo by -AX-):
Listeners, who will be restricted to those aged over 17, [how is this to be controlled?] will be able to listen to drunken tales from the Groucho Club while another details how gangster “Mad” Frankie Fraser operated his protection rackets. Other more colourful stories include those of Francis Bacon, the homosexual artist, being whipped and a former vice-squad officer pointing out a phone box that was a front for a crack den.
Ivo Dawnay, the London director of the Trust who is married to Rachel Johnson, the sister of mayor of London Boris Johnson, defended the new initiative.“British rock-and-roll, feminism and gay liberation were all born in Soho, and this new technology allows us to deliver those stories in a vivid way,” he said.
National Trust launches new tourist guide to Soho’s red light district (The Telegraph)
Soho Stories app (National Trust)

The first car ad, 1898
via Retronaut by Chris

The first automobile advertisement
Scientific American, February /March 1898
The Winton Motor Carriage Company was one of the first American companies to sell a motor car. On March 24, 1898 Robert Allison of Port Carbon, Pennsylvania became the first person to buy a Winton automobile after seeing the first automobile advertisement in Scientific American.
More images here

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