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Friday, September 29, 2017

From 1803, the Ottoman Empire's first map of the newly minted United States

Via Slate:

What did the United States look like to observers from the Ottoman Empire (wiki) in 1803? In this map, the newly independent U.S. is labeled “The Country of the English People” (“İngliz Cumhurunun Ülkesi”). The Iroquois Confederacy shows up as well, labeled the “Government of the Six Indian Nations.” Other tribes shown on the map include the Algonquin, Chippewa, Western Sioux (Siyu-yu Garbî), Eastern Sioux (Siyu-yu Şarkî), Black Pawnees (Kara Panis), and White Pawnees (Ak Panis).

Click here for a zoomable version, and/or visit the map's page in the digital collections of the Osher Map Library, University of Southern Maine. 

Click here to embiggen


via Geekpress.

Friday links

From 1960, here's how to build your own fallout shelter.

World War II Prison Camp Music.

Is beaming down in Star Trek a death sentence? Is it still you on the other side, or is it a copy?



Scientists have found an octopus city.

ICYMI, Monday's links are here, and include a brief history of hypnotic breast enlargement, the post-mortem journey of Buffalo Bill's corpse, and composer Dimitri Shostakovich's birthday

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

From 1960, here's how to build your own fallout shelter

This video on building your own fallout shelter is from the FEMA archives, via the US National Archives YouTube channel. Per Popular Mechanics:
Released in 1960, "Walt Builds a Family Fallout Shelter," was released by the government's Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization (OCDM), working with the National Concrete Masonry Association. The plot is self-explanatory, and the dialogue is meant to convince people that their shelter could have plenty of uses. Sure, it would be handy in the case of nuclear war, but you could use the shelter as a darkroom for photographs! It could be a place for the grandkids to stay, too.
You're supposed to be able to live in this thing comfortably for at least two weeks, assuming you stock it well. The plan is to build it in the corner of a basement.

To see what materials you’ll need, this detailed Family Fallout Shelter Bulletin was released at the same time.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Weird anti-drug PSAs

My personal favorite of these anti-drug PSAs is The Chicken Club - here's the youtube info:
This is a legitimate anti-drug music video (from the 80''s) conceived and created to let youngsters know that if they were confronted with the temptation to do drugs they could say "no" with confidence. Even if the person propositioning the child called them a "chicken" (as a last ditch effort to persuade the kid to change their mind) the youth could fire back with the completely unexpected answer, "That's right, I am a chicken and it's OK because there is this sweet music video that told me that it's cool to be a chicken. So your taunts, jeers and name calling will not make me change my mind, in fact they only strengthen my resolve. I'm not only a chicken...I'm in the Chicken Club!"


I would really like one of these Surfing Monkey Banks, please - story below the video:



Dangerous Minds had a post about the Surfing Monkey PSA in 2012 and heard from the creator, Greg Collins:
I’m one of the creators of that surfing monkey spot you threw up on Dangerous Minds this afternoon. Thanks for doing that.
Apparently you can buy these now.
That spot actually dates back to 1999. A buddy of mine and his wife totally smoked out one night. The next morning, they woke up on the sofa, their ribs and stomach muscles were hurting. They didn’t remember much of anything, other than laughing their asses off.
About a week later, a UPS guy knocked on their door, bearing some boxes from QVC. While they were all gassed out, they bought a Star Trek collector’s plate, a Chi-Wash-Wa home car washing system and a Michael Jordan in-flight pewter statuette. All in all, about $400. That must’ve been some great weed.
When they told me the story, I thought that’d make an awesome commercial, but all of that was too much to put into a :30 spot. We needed to drill it down to one item for simplicity and comedy’s sake. My buddy Greg hit on the idea of something really ridiculous like a surfing monkey coin bank. We shot the spot for like $300 and sold it through to the Partnership For A Drug-Free America. It ran in 1999-2000, and, to this day, remains one of their most beloved and recalled commercials.
And once you've moved on from the madness of reefer, here's LSD, A Case Study (turn down the sound - there's a very loud screaming hot dog):



via Flavorwire, where you can find more.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Monday links

Composer Dimitri Shostakovich was born September 25, 1906: some quotes, history, and music.

Mind-Altering Cat Parasite Just Got Linked to a Whole Lot of Neurological Disorders.

How the Star Trek Punch Became the Worst Fight Move on TV.



The Long, Strange Journey of Buffalo Bill's Corpse.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include the physics of wiffle ball, some equinox science for the first day of Fall, the use of the ducking stool on common scolds, and a kid showing his dad how to make Leonardo da Vinci’s self-supporting bridge.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Composer Dimitri Shostakovich was born September 25, 1906: some quotes, history, and music

I always try to make myself as widely understood as possible; and if I don't succeed, I consider it my own fault.

Dmitri Shostakovich (quoted in Machlis, Introduction to Contemporary Music)

The composer apparently does not set himself the task of listening to the desires and expectations of the Soviet public. He scrambles sounds to make them interesting to formalist elements who have lost all taste... The power of good music to affect the masses has been sacrificed to a petty-bourgeois, "formalist" attempt to create originality through cheap clowning. It is a game of clever ingenuity that may end very badly.*

~ Pravda (on the Shostakovich opera Lady MacBeth of Mtsensk, "Muddle Instead of Music," January 1936)

Still from a production of
 Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk
Shostakovich told me: "I finished the Fifth Symphony in the major and fortissimo... It would be interesting to know what would have been said if I finished it pianissimo and in the minor." Only later did I understand the full significance of these words, when I heard the Fourth Symphony, which does finish in the minor and pianissimo. But in 1937, nobody knew the Fourth Symphony.**

~ Boris Khaikin (1904-1978) (Discourses on Conducting)

There may be few notes, but there's lots of music.

~ Shostakovich (on his film music for King Lear; quoted in Wilson, Shostakovich, A Life Remembered)

Particularly during the Cold War, Shostakovich was anathema to many Western critics:

The Fifth Symphony of Shostakovich always has been singularly irritating to this chronicler... Whenever I hear one of his marches, my imagination fastens upon a picture of the parades in Red Square and the banners of Uncle Joe, and my irritation becomes powerful.

~ Cyrus Durgin (? - 1962) (Boston Globe, 25 October 1952)

To anyone who knew his music, a first encounter with Dmitri Shostakovich could not fail to be startling. In contrast to the elemental force, bombast, grandeur of his works, he was a chétif*** figure, the perennial student, unassertive and shy, who looked as though all the music could be wrung out of him in a couple of song cycles.

~ Yehudi Menuhin (1916-1999) (Unfinished Journey)

Today is the anniversary of the birth of the greatest of Soviet composers, Dmitri Shostakovich (wiki) (1906-1975), recognized by many as the greatest symphonist of the 20th century. Three decades after his death, his reputation only continues to grow. Born in St. Petersburg, Shostakovich was an early piano prodigy and studied composition at the St. Petersburg Conservatory during the early Soviet era.

At first recognized internationally as an exemplar of the best of Soviet musicianship, he ran afoul of the regime with his modernistic opera, Lady MacBeth of Mtsensk, which so outraged Stalin that he is said to have had a personal hand in writing the infamous Pravda editorial, "Muddle Instead of Music" that literally put the composer's life in jeopardy during the "Great Purge" of the late 1930s. 

Shostakovich somehow survived, even though he was recurrently criticized by the regime for his “modernist” tendencies. During his subsequent tumultuous career, he produced an enormous oeuvre: 15 symphonies, concertos, a great quantity of chamber music, song cycles, piano music, and several operas. Generally considered a serious - almost tragic - composer, Shostakovich nonetheless wrote a large amount of “light” music, including even a stage work – Moscow Cheryomushki (1959) – that might be described as a Russian musical comedy.

Harry Potter looks exactly like
 a young Shostakovich
For newcomers to the music of Shostakovich, I would recommend his 4th, 5th, and 10th symphonies, the two piano concertos, the "autobiographical" 8th strinq quartet, his several "jazz" and "ballet" suites compiled from light works of the 1930s, and his film score for The Gadfly, whose "Romance" was used to great effect as the principal theme of the TV series, "Riley, Ace of Spies."

During the last two decades, there has been a raging musicological debate about whether the music of Shostakovich reveals him as a loyal Soviet citizen or a closet dissident whose works portray a tormented man. No one really knows. He was clearly a quirky guy. In contradiction to the opening quotation above, he noted late in life,
"I've said what I said. Either you have it in you to understand, or if not, then it would be fruitless to try to explain anyway."
* N.B. In the first year of the Great Purge, this last sentence was a terrifying threat.

** After the uproar caused by Lady MacBeth of Mtsensk, Shostakovich "redeemed" himself with his Fifth Symphony (1937), designated "A Soviet Artist's Response to Just Criticism," still one of his most successful and popular works. However, his iconoclastic Fourth Symphony, which had been in rehearsal at the time of the debacle, was withdrawn and did not emerge again until 1961. It is now considered one of the master's most original works and a fascinating indicator of "the road not taken." By the way, Boris Khaikin was a Soviet-Jewish conductor.

*** Chétif - a French word meaning "puny."

Here is the romance from The Gadfly:



More typical of Shostakovich is the opening of his 4th symphony:


The text above is adapted from Ed's Quotation of the Day, only available via email - leave your email address in the comments if you'd like to be added to his list. Ed is the author of Hunters and Killers: Volume 1: Anti-Submarine Warfare from 1776 to 1943 and Hunters and Killers: Volume 2: Anti-Submarine Warfare from 1943.