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Howard Zinn’s Recommended Reading List for Activists Who Want to Change the World

Por Colin Marshall

Image by via Wikimedia Commons

Back in college, I spotted A People’s History of the United States in the bags and on the bookshelves of many a fellow undergraduate. By that time, Howard Zinn’s alternative telling of the American story had been popular reading material for a couple of decades, just as it presumably remains a couple more decades on. Even now, a dozen years after Zinn’s death, his ideas about how to approach U.S. history through non-standard points of view remain widely influential. Just last month, Radical Reads featured the reading list he originally drew up for the Socialist Worker, pitched at “activists interested in making their own history.”

Zinn’s recommendations naturally include the work of other historians, from Gary Nash’s Red, White and Black: The Peoples of Early America (“a pioneering work of ‘multiculturalism’ dealing with racial interactions in the colonial period”) to Vincent Harding’s There Is a River: The Black Struggle for Freedom in America (an “excellent start on Black history”) to Samuel Yellen’s American Labor Struggles (which “brings to life the great labor conflicts of American history”).


His suggested books cover not just the 20th century but eras like the Civil War, and even, extensively, the time of Christopher Columbus. For those who take their analyses of the past in comically illustrated form, Zinn also highlights Larry Gonick’s The Cartoon History of the United States as “funny and remarkably rich in its content.”

Certain Zinn picks stand out as being of special interest to Open Culture readers. These include Noam Chomsky’s Year 501, in which “the nation’s most distinguished intellectual rebel gives us huge amounts of information about recent American foreign policy”; Richard Hofstadter’s The American Political Tradition, with its “iconoclastic view of American political leaders, including Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, Wilson and the two Roosevelts, suggesting more consensus than difference at the top of the political hierarchy”; and W.E.B. DuBois’ Black Reconstruction, “a direct counter to the traditional racist accounts of Reconstruction, presenting the narrative from the Black point of view.” Zinn also praises The Sixties, “a vivid history, well-written, thoughtful, by one of the activists of that era”: Todd Gitlin, who died earlier this month.

Despite its understandable inclination toward nonfiction, Zinn’s list also has room for several classic American novels like John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, Richard Wright’s Black Boy, and Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. You may remember some of these books from your own high-school and university days, but whatever you got out of them back then, you’ll experience them more richly by revisiting them now, deeper into your own intellectual journey. As Zinn’s own life and work demonstrated, you can always find more angles from which to view the political, social, and cultural history of your county — the farther removed from those you were shown in school, the better.

via Radical Reads

Related content:

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African-American History: Modern Freedom Struggle (A Free Course from Stanford)

Howard Zinn’s “What the Classroom Didn’t Teach Me About the American Empire”: An Illustrated Video Narrated by Viggo Mortensen

American Literature, From the Beginnings to the Civil War: A Free Online Course from NYU

Noam Chomsky Defines What It Means to Be a Truly Educated Person

Adorn Your Garden with Howard the Zinn Monk

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Google App Uses Machine Learning to Discover Your Pet’s Look Alike in 10,000 Classic Works of Art

Por Ayun Halliday


Does your cat fancy herself a 21st-century incarnation of Bastet, the Egyptian Goddess of the Rising Sun, protector of the household, aka The Lady of Slaughter?

If so, you should definitely permit her to download the Google Arts & Culture app on your phone to take a selfie using the Pet Portraits feature.

Remember all the fun you had back in 2018 when the Art Selfie feature mistook you for William II, Prince of Orange or the woman in “Jacob Cornelisz. van Oostsanen Painting a Portrait of His Wife”?


Surely your pet will be just as excited to let a machine-learning algorithm trawl tens of thousands of artworks from Google Arts & Culture’s partnering museums’ collections, looking for doppelgängers.

Or maybe it’ll just view it as one more example of human folly, if a far lesser evil than our predilection for pet costumes.

Should your pet wish to know more about the artworks it resembles, you can tap the results to explore them in depth.

Dogs, fish, birds, reptiles, horses, and rabbits can play along too, though anyone hailing from the rodent family will find themselves shut out.

Mashable reports that “uploading a stock image of a mouse returned drawings of wolves.”

We can’t blame your pet snake for fuming.

Ditto your Vietnamese Pot-bellied pig.

Though your pet ferret probably doesn’t need an app (or a crystal ball) to know what its result would be. Better than an ermine collar, anyway…


If your pet is game and falls within Pet Portraits approved species parameters, here are the steps to follow:

  1. Launch the Google Arts & Culture app and select the Camera button. Scroll to the Pet Portraits option.
  2. Have your pet take a selfie. (Or alternatively, upload a saved image.)
  3. Give the app a few seconds (or minutes) to return multiple results with similarity percentages.

Download the Google Arts & Culture app here.

Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine and author, most recently, of Creative, Not Famous: The Small Potato Manifesto.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

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Ivan Reitman’s First Film “Orientation” (1968)

Por OC

Last night, we sadly learned of the passing of Ivan Reitman, director of many beloved comedies–Meatballs (1979), Stripes (1981), Ghostbusters (1984), and beyond.

Born in Czechoslovakia in 1946–his mother an Auschwitz survivor and his father an underground resistance fighter–Reitman moved to Canada as a young child, where he eventually attended McMaster University. And there he “produced and directed Orientation [in 1968], the most successful student film ever made in Canada,” writes Macleans. “Produced at a cost of $1,800 while Reitman was president of the McMaster University Film Board, Orientation — the story of a freshman during his first week at university — was acquired by Twentieth CenturyFox of Canada as a “featurette” to accompany John And Mary in first-run engagements across the country.” “It earned $15,000 in rentals and continues to be in demand…” You can watch it above, or on McMaster’s website.

For anyone interested in hearing Reitman discuss his development as a filmmaker, we’d recommend listening to his 2014 interview with Marc Maron.

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The First Illustrated Edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses Gets Published, Featuring the Work of Spanish Artist Eduardo Arroyo

Por Colin Marshall

This year will see the long-delayed publication of a version of Ulysses that Joyce didn’t want you to read — not James Joyce, mind you, but the author’s grandson Stephen Joyce. Up until his death in 2020, Stephen Joyce opposed the publication of his grandfather’s best-known book in an illustrated edition. But he only retained the power actually to prevent it until Ulysses‘ 2012 entry into the public domain, which made the work freely usable to everyone who wanted to. In this case, “everyone” includes such notables as neo-figurative artist Eduardo Arroyo, described by the New York Times‘ Raphael Minder as “as one of the greatest Spanish painters of his generation.”

At the time of Ulysses‘ copyright expiration, Arroyo had long since finished his own set of more than 300 illustrations for Joyce’s celebrated and famously intimidating novel. Arroyo noted in a 1991 essay, writes Minder, that “imagining the illustrations kept him alive when he was hospitalized in the late 1980s for peritonitis, an inflammation of the abdominal lining.”


The initial hope was for an Arroyo-illustrated edition to mark the 50th anniversary of Joyce’s death in 1991, but without the permission of the author’s estate, the project had to be put on hold for a couple of decades. When that time came, it was taken up again by two publishers, Barcelona’s Galaxia Gutenberg and New York’s Other Press.

“Some of Arroyo’s black-and-white illustrations are printed in the margins of the book’s pages, while others are double-page paintings whose vivid colors are reminiscent of the Pop Art that inspired him.” His drawings, watercolors and collages include “eclectic images of shoes and hats, bulls and bats, as well as some sexually explicit representations of scenes that drew the wrath of censors a century ago.” For Ulysses’ “710 pages of inner monologue and dialogue, stream of consciousness, blank verse, Greek classics, and the venues and byways of Dublin, 1904,” as the Los Angeles Times‘ Jordan Riefe puts it, are as well known for their formidable complexity as it is for the power they once had to scandalize polite society.

Arroyo, who died in 2018, stayed faithful to Ulysses‘ content. (“Of course there are graphic nudes,” Riefe adds, “especially in later chapters.”) He also succeeded in completing an arduous project that the most notable artists of Joyce’s day refused even to attempt. “Joyce himself had asked Picasso and Matisse to illustrate it,” writes Galaxia Gutenberg’s Joan Tarrida, “but neither took on the task. Matisse preferred to illustrate The Odyssey,” Ulysses’ own structural inspiration, “which deeply offended Joyce.” What Joyce would make of Arroyo’s vital and multifarious illustrations, more of which you can sample at Literary Hub, is any scholar’s guess — but then, didn’t he say something about wanting to keep the scholars guessing for centuries?

You can now purchase a copy of Ulysses: An Illustrated Edition.

Related content:

Henri Matisse Illustrates James Joyce’s Ulysses (1935)

Read Ulysses Seen, A Graphic Novel Adaptation of James Joyce’s Classic

Henri Matisse Illustrates Baudelaire’s Censored Poetry Collection, Les Fleurs du Mal

Read the Original Serialized Edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses (1918)

Every Word of Joyce’s Ulysses Printed on a Single Poster

Why Should You Read James Joyce’s Ulysses?: A New TED-ED Animation Makes the Case

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

How the Riot Grrrl Movement Created a Revolution in Rock & Punk

Por Ted Mills

The Riot Grrrl movement feels like one of the last real revolutions in rock and punk, and not just because of its feminist, anti-capitalist politics. As Polyphonic outlines in his short music history video, Riot Grrrl was one of the last times anything major happened in rock music before the internet. And it’s especially thrilling because it all started with *zines*.

Women in the punk scene had a right to complain. Bands and their fans were very male, and sexual harassment was chronic at shows, leaving most women standing at the back of the crowd. Some zines even spelled it out: “Punks Are Not Girls,” says one.


Alienated from the scene but still fans at heart, Tobi Vail and Kathleen Hanna, already producing their own feminist zines, joined forces to release “Bikini Kill” a gathering of lyrics, essays, confessionals, appropriated quotes, plugs for Vail’s other zine “Jigsaw“, and a sense that something was happening. Something was changing in rock culture. Kim Deal of the Pixies and Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth were heroes, Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex was a legend, and Yoko Ono “paved the way in more ways than one for us angry grrl rockers.” Another zine, “Girl Germs,” was created by Allison Wolfe and Molly Neuman.

Bikini Kill the zine led to Bikini Kill the band in 1990, and their song “Rebel Girl” became an anthem of a new feminist rock movement focused mainly in the Pacific Northwest, around the same time as grunge.

Wolfe and Neuman, joined by Erin Smith, formed Bratmobile in 1991. K Records founder Calvin Johnson had asked them to play support for Bikini Kill, and out of necessity—Wolfe first admitted they were a “fake band”—they grabbed rehearsal space and became a “real” band on the spot. “Something in me clicked,” Wolfe said. “Like, okay, if most boy punk rock bands just listen to the Ramones and that’s how they write their songs, then we’ll do the opposite and I won’t listen to any Ramones and that way we’ll sound different.”

The burgeoning scene needed a manifesto, and it got one in “Bikini Kill” issue #2. The Riot Grrrl Manifesto staked out a space that was against “racism, able-bodieism, ageism, speciesism, classism, thinism, sexism, anti-semitism and heterosexism” as well as “capitalism in all its forms.” It ends with: “BECAUSE I believe with my wholeheartmindbody that girls constitute a revolutionary soul force that can, and will change the world for real.”

The manifesto (and the very healthy Pacific Northwest live scene) spawned a movement, even bringing with it bands that had been around previously, like L7. Riot Grrrl set out to elevate women’s voices and music, without capitulating to male standards, and return to the DIY and collective energy of the early punk scene. It also brought feminist theory out of the colleges and onto the stage, and with it queer theory and dialog about trauma, rape, and abuse—everything mainstream culture would rather not talk about. Like the original punk scene in the 1970s, it burned brightly and flamed out. But it inspired generations of bands, from Sleater-Kinney to White Lung, as well as non-rock music like the Electroclash movement.

Read a zine from the time, or listen to the lyrics of Riot Grrrl bands and you will hear the same discourse, and recognize the same tactics, as today. In some ways it feels even more radical now-—that humble, photocopied zines could affect a whole scene and not be atomized by social media.

To delve deeper, check out the New York Times‘ Riot Grrl Essential Listening Guide.

Related Content:

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Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the Notes from the Shed podcast and is the producer of KCRW’s Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, and/or watch his films here.

The Great Courses Is Now Running a Big Spring Warehouse Clearance Sale

Por OC

FYI: The Great Courses (formerly The Teaching Company) is running its Spring Warehouse Clearance Sale, offering a steep discount on a good number of its courses. If you’re not familiar with it, the Great Courses provides a very nice service. They travel across the U.S., recording great professors lecturing on great topics that will appeal to any lifelong learner. They then make the courses available to customers in different formats (DVD, Video & Audio Downloads, etc.). The courses are very polished and complete, and they can be quite reasonably priced, especially when they’re on sale, as they are today. Click here to explore the offer. The Spring Warehouse Clearance Sale ends on March 10.

Note: The Great Courses is a partner with Open Culture. So if you purchase a course, it benefits not just you and Great Courses. It benefits Open Culture too. So consider it win-win-win.

Nietzsche’s 10 Rules for Writing with Style

Por OC

The life of Russian-born poet, novelist, critic, and first female psychologist Lou Andreas-Salomé has provided fodder for both salacious speculation and intellectual drama in film and on the page for the amount of romantic attention she attracted from European intellectuals like philosopher Paul Rée, poet Ranier Maria Rilke, and Friedrich Nietzsche. Emotionally intense Nietzsche became infatuated with Salomé, proposed marriage, and, when she declined, broke off their relationship in abrupt Nietzschean fashion.

For her part, Salomé so valued these friendships she made a proposal of her own: that she, Nietzsche and Rée, writes D.A. Barry at 3:AM Magazine, “live together in a celibate household where they might discuss philosophy, literature and art.” The idea scandalized Nietzsche’s sister and his social circle and may have contributed to the “passionate criticism” Salomé’s 1894 biographical study, Friedrich Nietzsche: The Man and His Works, received. The “much maligned” work deserves a reappraisal, Barry argues, as “a psychological portrait.”


In Nietzsche, Salomé wrote, we see “sorrowful ailing and triumphal recovery, incandescent intoxication and cool consciousness. One senses here the close entwining of mutual contradictions; one senses the overflowing and voluntary plunge of over-stimulated and tensed energies into chaos, darkness and terror, and then an ascending urge toward the light and most tender moments.” We might see this passage as charged by the remembrance of a friend, with whom she once “climbed Monte Sacro,” she claimed, in 1882, “where he told her of the concept of the Eternal Recurrence ‘in a quiet voice with all the signs of deepest horror.’”

We should also, perhaps primarily, see Salomé’s impressions as an effect of Nietzsche’s turbulent prose, reaching its apotheosis in his experimentally philosophical novel, Thus Spake Zarathustra. As a theorist of the embodiment of ideas, of their inextricable relation to the physical and the social, Nietzsche had some very specific ideas about literary style, which he communicated to Salomé in an 1882 note titled “Toward the Teaching of Style.” Well before writers began issuing “similar sets of commandments,” writes Maria Popova at Brain Pickings, Nietzsche “set down ten stylistic rules of writing,” which you can find, in their original list form, below.

1. Of prime necessity is life: a style should live.

2. Style should be suited to the specific person with whom you wish to communicate. (The law of mutual relation.)

3. First, one must determine precisely “what-and-what do I wish to say and present,” before you may write. Writing must be mimicry.

4. Since the writer lacks many of the speaker’s means, he must in general have for his model a very expressive kind of presentation of necessity, the written copy will appear much paler.

5. The richness of life reveals itself through a richness of gestures. One must learn to feel everything — the length and retarding of sentences, interpunctuations, the choice of words, the pausing, the sequence of arguments — like gestures.

6. Be careful with periods! Only those people who also have long duration of breath while speaking are entitled to periods. With most people, the period is a matter of affectation.

7. Style ought to prove that one believes in an idea; not only that one thinks it but also feels it.

8. The more abstract a truth which one wishes to teach, the more one must first entice the senses.

9. Strategy on the part of the good writer of prose consists of choosing his means for stepping close to poetry but never stepping into it.

10. It is not good manners or clever to deprive one’s reader of the most obvious objections. It is very good manners and very clever to leave it to one’s reader alone to pronounce the ultimate quintessence of our wisdom.

As with all such prescriptions, we are free to take or leave these rules as we see fit. But we should not ignore them. While Nietzsche’s perspectivism has been (mis)interpreted as wanton subjectivity, his veneration for antiquity places a high value on formal constraints. His prose, we might say, resides in that tension between Dionysian abandon and Apollonian cool, and his rules address what liberal arts professors once called the Trivium: grammar, rhetoric, and logic: the three supports of moving, expressive, persuasive writing.

Salomé was so impressed with these aphoristic rules that she included them in her biography, remarking, “to examine Nietzsche’s style for causes and conditions means far more than examining the mere form in which his ideas are expressed; rather, it means that we can listen to his inner soundings.” Isn’t this what great writing should feel like?

Salomé wrote in her study that “Nietzsche not only mastered language but also transcended its inadequacies.” (As Nietzsche himself commented in 1886, notes Hugo Drochon, he needed to invent “a language of my very own.”) Nietzsche’s bold-yet-disciplined writing found a complement in Salomé’s boldly keen analysis. From her we can also perhaps glean another principle: “No matter how calumnious the public attacks on her,” writes Barry, “particularly from [his sister] Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche during the Nazi period in Germany, Salomé did not respond to them.”

Note: An earlier version of this post appeared on our site in December 2016.

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If you would like to support the mission of Open Culture, consider making a donation to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere. You can contribute through PayPal, Patreon, Venmo (@openculture) and Crypto. Thanks!

Related Content:

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

How Insulated Glass Changed Architecture: An Introduction to the Technological Breakthrough That Changed How We Live and How Our Buildings Work

Por Colin Marshall

When we think of a “midcentury modern” home, we think of glass walls. In part, this has to do with the post-World War II decades’ promotion of the southern California-style indoor-outdoor suburban lifestyle. But business and culture are downstream of technology, and, in this specific case, the technology known as insulated glass. Its development solved the problem of glass windows that had dogged architecture since at least the second century: they let in light, but even more so cold and heat. Only in the 1930s did a refrigeration engineer figure out how to make windows with not one but two panes of glass and an insulating layer of air between them. Its trade name: Thermopane.

First manufactured by the Libbey-Owens-Ford glass company, “Thermopane changed the possibilities for architects,” says Vox’s Phil Edwards in the video above, “How Insulated Glass Changed Architecture.” In it he speaks with architectural historian Thomas Leslie, who says that “by the 1960s, if you’re putting a big window into any residential or office building” in all but the most temperate climates, you were using insulated glass “almost by default.”


Competing glass manufacturers introduced a host of variations on and innovations in not just the technology but the marketing as well: “No home is truly modern without TWINDOW,” declared one brand’s magazine advertisement.

The associated imagery, says Leslie, was “always a sliding glass door looking out onto a very verdant landscape,” which promised “a way of connecting your inside world and your outside world” (as well as “being able to see all of your stuff”). But the new possibility of “walls of glass” made for an even more visible change in commercial architecture, being the sine qua non of the smoothly reflective skyscrapers that rise from every American downtown. Today, of course, we can see 80, 900, 100 floors of sheer glass stacked up in cities all over the world, shimmering declarations of membership among the developed nations. Those sliding glass doors, by the same token, once announced an American family’s arrival into the prosperous middle class — and now, more than half a century later, still look like the height of modernity.

Related content:

Why Do People Hate Modern Architecture?: A Video Essay

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

That Time When the Mediterranean Sea Dried Up & Disappeared: Animations Show How It Happened

Por Colin Marshall

We hear a great deal today about the potential causes of rising sea levels. At a certain point, natural curiosity brings out the opposite question: what causes sea levels to fall? And for that matter, can a body of water so large simply vanish entirely? Such a thing did happen once, according to the PBS Eons video above. The story begins, from our perspective, with the discovery about a decade ago of a giant rabbit — or rather of the bones of a giant rabbit, one “up to six times heavier than your average cottontail” that “almost certainly couldn’t hop.” This odd, long-gone specimen was dubbed Nuralagus rex: “the rabbit king of Minorca,” the modern-day island it ruled from about five million to three million years ago.

After living for long periods of time on islands without natural predators, certain species take on unusual proportions. “But how did the normal-size ancestor of Nuralagus make it onto a Mediterranean island in the first place?” The answer is that Minorca wasn’t always an island. In fact, “mega-deposits” of salt under the floor of the Mediterranean suggest that, “at one point in history, the Mediterranean Sea must have evaporated.” As often in our investigation of the natural world, one strange big question leads to another even stranger and bigger one. Geologists’ long and complex project of addressing it has led them to posit a forbidding-sounding event called the Messinian Salinity Crisis, or MSC.


MSC-explaining theories include a “global cooling event” six million years ago whose creation of glaciers would have reduced the flow of water into the Mediterranean, and “tectonic events” that could have blocked off what we now know as the Strait of Gibraltar. But the cause now best supported by evidence involves a combination of shifts in the Earth’s crust and changes in its climate — sixteen full cycles of them. “During periods of decreasing sea level, the position and angle of the Earth changed with respect to the Sun, so there were periods of lower solar energy, and others of higher solar energy, which increased evaporation rates in the Mediterranean. At the same time, an actively folding and uplifting tectonic belt caused water input to decrease.”

The MSC seems to have lasted for over 600,000 years. At its driest point, 5.6 million years ago, “external water sources were completely cut off, and most of the water left behind in the Mediterranean basin was evaporating.” For sea creatures, the Mediterranean became uninhabitable, but those that lived on dry land had a bit of a field day. These relatively dry conditions “allowed hippos, elephants, and other megafauna from Africa to walk and swim across the Mediterranean,” constituting a great migration that would have included the ancestor of Nuralagus rex. But when the sea later filled back up — possibly due to a flood, as animated above — the rabbit king of Minorca learned that, even on a geological timescale, you can’t go home again.

Related content:

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Zoo Hires Marvin Gaye Impersonator to Help Endangered Monkeys “Get It On”

Por OC

This past weekend, monkeys residing at a British zoo got a special treat. A Marvin Gaye impersonator performed “Let’s Get It On” and “Sexual Healing,” all in an effort to help the monkeys, well, “get it on.”

Located in Stafford, England, the Trentham Monkey Forest saw the performance as a novel way to get their endangered Barbary macaques to produce offspring: Park Director Matt Lovatt said on the zoo’s website: “We thought it could be a creative way to encourage our females to show a little affection to males that might not have been so lucky in love.” “Females in season mate with several males so paternity among our furry residents is never known. Each birth is vital to the species with Barbary macaques being classed as endangered. Birthing season occurs in late spring/early summer each year, so hopefully Marvin’s done his magic and we can welcome some new babies!”

For anyone keeping score, Dave Largie is the singer channeling Marvin.

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If you would like to support the mission of Open Culture, consider making a donation to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere. You can contribute through PayPal, Patreon, Venmo (@openculture) and Crypto. Thanks!

via UPI

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The Code of Charles Dickens’ Shorthand Has Been Cracked by Computer Programmers, Solving a 160-Year-Old Mystery

Por Colin Marshall


We can describe the writing of Charles Dickens in many ways, but never as impenetrable. The most popular novelist of his day, he wrote for the broadest possible audience, serializing his stories in newspapers before putting them between covers. This hardly prevented him from demonstrating a mastery of the English language whose mark remains detectable in our own rhetoric and literary prose more than 150 years after his death. But Dickens wrote both publicly and privately, and in the case of the latter he could write quite privately indeed: in documents for his own eyes only, he made use of a shorthand that he called it “the devil’s handwriting,” and which has long been devilishly impenetrable to scholars.

Dickens “learned a difficult shorthand system called Brachygraphy and wrote about the experience in his semi-autobiographical novel, David Copperfield, calling it a ‘savage stenographic mystery,'” says The Dickens Code, a web site dedicated to solving that mystery.


A former court reporter, “Dickens used shorthand throughout his life but while he was using the system, he was also changing it. So the hooks, lines, circles and squiggles on the page are very hard to decipher.” The Dickens Code project thus offered up t0 anyone who could transcribe his shorthand a sum of 300 British pounds — which might not sound like much, but imagine how grand a sum it would have been in Dickens’ day.

Besides, the internet’s cryptography enthusiasts hardly require much of an incentive to get to work on such a long-uncracked code as this. “The winner of the competition, Shane Baggs, a computer technical support specialist from San Jose, Calif., had never read a Dickens novel before,” writes the New York Times’ Jenny Gross. “Mr. Baggs, who spent about six months working on the text, mostly after work, said that he first heard about the competition through a group on Reddit dedicated to cracking codes and finding hidden messages.”

The document being decoded is a copy of a letter from 1859, the year Dickens was serializing A Tale of Two Cities. Writing to Times of London editor John Thaddeus Delane, “Dickens says that a clerk at the newspaper was wrong to reject an advertisement he wanted in the paper, promoting a new literary publication, and asks again for it to run,” report Gross. This seemingly trivial incident inspires the kind of “strong, direct language in the 19th century that showed the writer was angry.” Though 70 percent of this decorously bad-tempered letter has now been deciphered, The Dickens Code still has work to do and continues to enlist help from volunteers to do it, albeit without the prize money that is now presumably in Baggs’ possession. Let’s hope he uses it on the handsomest possible set of Dickens’ collected works.

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Stream a 24 Hour Playlist of Charles Dickens Stories, Featuring Classic Recordings by Laurence Olivier, Orson Welles & More

Why Did Leonardo da Vinci Write Backwards? A Look Into the Ultimate Renaissance Man’s “Mirror Writing”

Alice in Wonderland, Hamlet, and A Christmas Carol Written in Shorthand (Circa 1919)

Charles Dickens (Channeling Jorge Luis Borges) Created a Fake Library, with 37 Witty Invented Book Titles

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Nikola Tesla’s Predictions for the 21st Century: The Rise of Smart Phones & Wireless, The Demise of Coffee & More (1926/35)

Por OC

The fate of the visionary is to be forever outside of his or her time. Such was the life of Nikola Tesla, who dreamed the future while his opportunistic rival Thomas Edison seized the moment. Even now the name Tesla conjures seemingly wildly impractical ventures, too advanced, too expensive, or far too elegant in design for mass production and consumption. No one better than David Bowie, the pop artist of possibility, could embody Tesla’s air of magisterial high seriousness on the screen. And few were better suited than Tesla himself, perhaps, to extrapolate from his time to ours and see the technological future clearly.

Of course, this image of Tesla as a lone, heroic, and even somewhat tragic figure who fell victim to Edison’s designs is a bit of a romantic exaggeration. As even the editor of a 1935 feature interview piece in the now-defunct Liberty magazine wrote, Tesla and Edison may have been rivals in the “battle between alternating and direct current…. Otherwise the two men were merely opposites. Edison had a genius for practical inventions immediately applicable. Tesla, whose inventions were far ahead of the time, aroused antagonisms which delayed the fruition of his ideas for years.” One can in some respects see why Tesla “aroused antagonisms.” He may have been a genius, but he was not a people person, and some of his views, though maybe characteristic of the times, are downright unsettling.

libertymagazine9february1935page5

In the lengthy Liberty essay, “as told to George Sylvester Viereck” (a poet and Nazi sympathizer who also interviewed Hitler), Tesla himself makes the pronouncement, “It seems that I have always been ahead of my time.” He then goes on to enumerate some of the ways he has been proven right, and confidently lists the characteristics of the future as he sees it. No one likes a know-it-all, but Tesla refused to compromise or ingratiate himself, though he suffered for it professionally. And he was, in many cases, right. Many of his 1935 predictions in Liberty are still too far off to measure, and some of them will seem outlandish, or criminal, to us today. But some still seem plausible, and a few advisable if we are to make it another 100 years as a species. Tesla’s predictions include the following, which he introduces with the disclaimer that “forecasting is perilous. No man can look very far into the future.”

  • “Buddhism and Christianity… will be the religion of the human race in the twenty-first century.”
  • “The year 2100 will see eugenics universally established.” Tesla went on to comment, “no one who is not a desirable parent should be permitted to produce progeny. A century from now it will no more occur to a normal person to mate with a person eugenically unfit than to marry a habitual criminal.”
  • “Hygiene, physical culture will be recognized branches of education and government. The Secretary of Hygiene or Physical Culture will be far more important in the cabinet of the President of the United States who holds office in the year 2025 than the Secretary of War.” Along with personal hygiene, Tesla included “pollution” as a social ill in need of regulation.
  • “I am convinced that within a century coffee, tea, and tobacco will be no longer in vogue. Alcohol, however, will still be used. It is not a stimulant but a veritable elixir of life.”
  • “There will be enough wheat and wheat products to feed the entire world, including the teeming millions of China and India.” (Tesla did not foresee the anti-gluten mania of the 21st century.)
  • “Long before the next century dawns, systematic reforestation and the scientific management of natural resources will have made an end of all devastating droughts, forest fires, and floods. The universal utilization of water power and its long-distance transmission will supply every household with cheap power.” Along with this optimistic prediction, Tesla foresaw that “the struggle for existence being lessened, there should be development along ideal rather than material lines.”

Tesla goes on to predict the elimination of war, “by making every nation, weak or strong, able to defend itself,” after which war chests would be diverted to funding education and research. He then describes—in rather fantastical-sounding terms—an apparatus that “projects particles” and transmits energy, enabling not only a revolution in defense technology, but “undreamed of results in television.” Tesla diagnoses his time as one in which “we suffer from the derangement of our civilization because we have not yet completely adjusted ourselves to the machine age.” The solution, he asserts—along with most futurists, then and now—“does not lie in destroying but in mastering the machine.” As an example of such mastery, Tesla describes the future of “automatons” taking over human labor and the creation of “a thinking machine.”

Matt Novak at the Smithsonian has analyzed many of Tesla’s claims, interpreting his predictions about “hygiene and physical culture” as a foreshadowing of the EPA and discussing Tesla’s work in robotics (“Today,” Tesla proclaimed, “the robot is an accepted fact”). The Liberty article was not the first time Tesla had made large-scale, public predictions about the century to come and beyond. In 1926, Tesla gave an interview to Collier’s magazine in which he more or less accurately foresaw smartphones and wireless telephony and computing:

When wireless is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, which in fact it is…. We shall be able to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of distance. Not only this, but through television and telephony we shall see and hear one another as perfectly as though were face to face, despite intervening distances of thousands of miles; and the instruments through which we shall be able to do this will be amazingly simple compared with our present telephone. A man will be able to carry one in his vest pocket. 

Telsa also made some odd predictions about fuel-less passenger flying machines “free from any limitations of the present airplanes and dirigibles” and spouted more of the scary stuff about eugenics that had come to obsess him late in life. Additionally, Tesla saw changing gender relations as the precursor of a coming matriarchy. This was not a development he characterized in positive terms. For Tesla, feminism would “end in a new sex order, with the female as superior.” (As Novak notes, Tesla’s misgivings about feminism have made him a hero to the so-called “men’s rights” movement.) While he fully granted that women could and would match and surpass men in every field, he warned that “the acquisition of new fields of endeavor by women, their gradual usurpation of leadership, will dull and finally dissipate feminine sensibilities, will choke the maternal instinct, so that marriage and motherhood may become abhorrent and human civilization draw closer and closer to the perfect civilization of the bee.”

It seems to me that a “bee civilization” would appeal to a eugenicist, except, I suppose, Tesla feared becoming a drone. Although he saw the development as inevitable, he still sounds to me like any number of current politicians who argue that society should continue to suppress and discriminate against women for their own good and the good of “civilization.” Tesla may be an outsider hero for geek culture everywhere, but his social attitudes give me the creeps. While I’ve personally always liked the vision of a world in which robots do most the work and we spend most of our money on education, when it comes to the elimination of war, I’m less sanguine about particle rays and more sympathetic to the words of Ivor Cutler.

Note: An earlier version of this post appeared on our site in 2015.

via Smithsonian/Paleofuture

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

The Fiendishly Complicated Board Game That Takes 1,500 Hours to Play: Discover The Campaign for North Africa

Por Colin Marshall

Monopoly is notoriously time-consuming. On the childhood Christmas I received my first copy of that Parker Brothers classic, my dad and I started a game that ended up spreading over two or three days. That may have had to do with my appreciation for Monopoly’s aesthetic far exceeding my grasp of its aim, and I’ve since realized that it can be played in about an hour. That’s still a good deal longer than, say, a game of checkers, but it falls somewhat short of the league occupied by The Campaign for North Africa — which is, in fact, a league of its own. Since its publication in 1979, it’s been known as the longest board game in existence, requiring 1,500 hours (or 62 days) to complete.

We are, of course, talking about a war game, and that genre has its own standards of complexity — standards The Campaign for North Africa leaves in the dust. “The game itself covers the famous WWII operations in Libya and Egypt between 1940 and 1943,” writes Kotaku’s Luke Winkle. “You’ll need to recruit 10 total players, (five Allied, five Axis,) who will each lord over a specialized division. The Front-line and Air Commanders will issue orders to the troops in battle, the Rear and Logistics Commanders will ferry supplies to the combat areas, and lastly, a Commander-in-Chief will be responsible for all macro strategic decisions over the course of the conflict. If you and your group meets for three hours at a time, twice a month, you’d wrap up the campaign in about 20 years.”


You can get an idea of what you’d be dealing with over those two decades in the video below from Youtuber Phasing Player, an overview that itself takes about an hour and a half. “Honestly, if I’m being straight-up here, this game does sound, broadly speaking, like a fun time,” he says, half an hour deep into the explanation. “Imagine setting up a giant map of Africa,” getting your friends together, “Sarah’s in charge of the air force and Jim is in charge of logistics. You have all these people in charge of different things, and you’re communicating strategies, and the commander-in-chief is formulating plans and doing all this stuff. That sounds like a real hoot, right?” Alas, “the big asterisk comes in when that good time has to last literally a thousand hours,” involving what another player quoted by Winkle calls “doing tedious calculations all the time.”

Those calculations necessitate paying close attention, on every single turn, to not just quantities like fuel reserves but the historically accurate size of the barrels containing those reserves. Note also that, as Winkle adds, “the Italian troops in World War II were outfitted with noodle rations, and in the name of historical dogma, the player responsible for the Italians is required to distribute an extra water ration to their forces, so that their pasta may be boiled.” The Campaign for North Africa‘s designer, the late Richard Berg, claimed that the so-called “pasta rule” was a joke, and that the game’s fiendish overall complexity was in keeping with the style of the times, a “golden age” of war gaming with high sales and ever-escalating ambitions. As with so many other seemingly inexplicable artifacts of cultural history, one falls back on a familiar explanation: hey, it was the 70s.

via Kotaku

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Pink Floyd’s Debut on American TV, Restored in Color (1967)

Por OC

Several years ago, Josh Jones took you inside Pink Floyd’s first appearance on American television. In 1967, after releasing their first album Piper at the Gates of Dawn, the band came to the States and made their unlikely TV debut on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, performing “Apples and Oranges.” That’s the “third single and the final song Barrett wrote for the band before he suffered a psychotic break onstage and was replaced by David Gilmour.”

Our original post featured grainy black and white footage of the appearance. Above, you can watch a restored, colorized version that took nearly a year to create. According to the YouTube channel “Artist on the Border,” each “frame of the 3350 required frames had to be uploaded individually, downloaded again and individually named.” Enjoy the fruits of their labor above.

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Tate Kids Presents Introductions to Art Movements: Cubism, Impressionism, Surrealism & More

Por Ayun Halliday

Tate Kids has a solid grasp on the sort of hands on art-related content that appeals to children – Make a mud painting! Make a spaghetti sculpture! Photo filter challenge!

Children of all ages, grown ups who skipped out on art history included, will benefit from their breakneck overviews of entire art movements.

Take cubism.


The Tate Kids’ animation, above, provides a solid if speedy overview, zipping through eight canvases, six artists, and explanations of the movement’s two phases – analytical and synthetic. (Three phases if you count Orphism, the abstract, cubist influenced painting style married artists Robert and Sonia Delaunay hatched around 1912.)

Given the intended audience, the fond friendship between the fathers of cubism, Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso looms large, with nary a peep about Picasso’s narcissism and misogyny. And it must be said that the narrator’s tone grates a bit – a bit too loud, a bit too wowed.

The Impressionists come off as the real cool kids, with a different narrator, and nifty collage animations that find Camille Pissarro throwing horns and a Mohawked Alfred Sisley as they reject the Salon‘s insistence on “myths, battles and paintings of important people.”

Their defiant spirit is supported by criticism that most definitely has not stood the test of time:

Pure evil! 

Wallpaper! 

Like a monkey has got hold of a box of paints!

Kid presenters seize the controls for an introduction to the mid-century Japanese avant-garde movement, Gutai.

Their conclusion?

Smashing things up is fun!

As are manifestos:

Let’s bid farewell to the hoaxes piled up on the altars and in the palaces, the drawing rooms and the antique shops…Lock up these corpses in the graveyard!

Yay!

Those who are poorly equipped to stomach the narrators’ whizbang enthusiasm should take a restorative minutes to visit the museum oranges in hand, with 12-year-old Jaeda and 9-year-old Fatimatu. Their calm willingness to engage with conceptual art is a tonic:

When I started art, I though art was just about making it perfect, but you don’t have to care what other people say. That could still mean an art to you.

Watch a Tate Kids Art Movements playlist on YouTube. Supplement what you’ve learned with a host of Tate Kids activities, coloring pages, games, quizzes, artist bios and a gallery of crowdsourced kid art.

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Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine and author, most recently, of Creative, Not Famous: The Small Potato Manifesto.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Mystical Photographs Taken Inside a Cello, Double Bass & Other Instruments

Por OC

All images by Adrian Borda

“If God had designed the orchestra,” remarks a character in Rick Moody’s Hotels of North America, “then the cello was His greatest accomplishment.” I couldn’t agree more. The cello sounds sublime, looks stately… even the word cello evokes regal poise and grace. If orchestral instruments were chess pieces, the cello would be queen: shapely and dignified, prime mover on the board, majestic in symphonies, quartets, chamber pop ensembles, post rock bands….

With all its many sonic and aesthetic charms, I didn’t imagine it was possible to love the cello more. Then I saw Romanian artist Adrian Borda’s magnificent photos taken from inside one. The photo above, Borda tells us at his Deviant Art page, was taken from inside “a very old French cello made in Napoleon’s times.” It looks like the belly of the HMS Victory mated with the nave of Chartres Cathedral. The light descending through the f-holes seems of some divine origin.

Borda has also taken photos from inside an old double bass (above), as well as a guitar, sax, and piano. The stringed orchestral instruments, he says, yielded the best results. He was first inspired by a 2009 ad campaign for the Berliner Philharmoniker that “captured the insides of instruments,” writes Twisted Sifter, “revealing the hidden landscapes within.” Without any sense of how the art director created the images, Borda set about experimenting with methods of his own.


He was lucky enough to have a luthier friend who had a contrabass open for repairs. Later he traveled to Amiens, where he found the French cello, also open. “To achieve these shots,” Twisted Sifter notes, “Borda fit a Sony NEX-6 camera equipped with a Samyang 8mm fisheye lens inside the instrument and then used a smart remote so he could preview the workflow on his phone.” Depending on the angle and the play of light within the instrument, the photos can look eerie, somber, ominous, or angelic—mirroring the cello’s expressive range.

Borda gives the cello interior shot above the perfect title “A Long, Lonely Time….” Its play of smoke and light is ghostly noir. His photo below, of the inside of a saxophone, pulls us into a haunted, alien tunnel. If you want to know what’s on the other side, consider the strange surrealist worlds of Borda’s main gig as a surrealist painter of warped fantasies and nightmares. Unlike these photos, his paintings are full of lurid, violent color, but they are also filled with mysterious musical motifs. See more of Borda’s interior instrument photos at Deviant Art and Twister Sifter.

Note: An earlier version of this post appeared on our site in 2018.

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

Bob Dylan Goes Punk on Late Night with David Letterman, Playing “Jokerman” with the Latino Punk Band, the Plugz (1984)

Por Colin Marshall

Listen to Bob Dylan’s studio albums all you like; you don’t know his music until you hear the live versions. That, at least, is the conclusion at which I’ve arrived after spending the better part of the past year listening through Dylan’s studio discography. This is not to put him into the mold of the Grateful Dead, whose studio albums come a distant second in importance to their vast body of live recordings. It was surely the songs preserved on the likes of Highway 61 RevisitedBlood on the Tracks, and Love and Theft, after all, that won Dylan the Nobel Prize. But in a sense he’s never stopped writing these same songs, often subjecting them to brazen stylistic and lyrical changes when he launches into them onstage.

This self-reinterpretation occasionally produces what Dylan’s fans consider a new definitive version. Perhaps the most agreed-upon example is “Jokerman,” the opener to his 1983 album Infidels (and the basis for one of his earliest MTV music videos), which he performed the following year on the still-new Late Night with David Letterman.


As Vulture’s Matthew Giles puts it, Letterman was fast becoming “a comedy sensation, bringing a new level of sarcasm, irony, and Bud Melman-centric humor to a late-night format still reliant on the smooth unflappability of Johnny Carson.” Dylan had been going in the other direction, “having frustrated his audience with the musically slick, lyrically hectoring series of evangelical Christian albums that he’d released in the late 70s and early 80s.”

By 1984, “Dave was far more of a counterculture hero than Bob.” But Dylan had been surreptitiously preparing for his next musical transformation: many were the nights he would “leave his Malibu home and slip into shows by the likes of L.A. punk stalwarts X, or check out the Santa Monica Civic Center when the Clash came to town.” For accompaniment on the Letterman gig he brought drummer J.J. Holiday,  as well as Charlie Quintana and bassist Tony Marsico of the LA punk band the Plugz, with whom he’d been spent the previous few months jamming. It isn’t until they take Letterman’s stage that Dylan tells the band what to open with: bluesman Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Don’t Start Me Talking.”

You can see Dylan’s entire three-song set in the video above, which also includes sound-check footage. After “Don’t Start Me Talking” come two songs from Infidels: “License to Kill” and a rendition of “Jokerman” that turns the original’s reggae into stripped-down, hard-driving rock. The stylistic change seems to infuse the 42-year-old Dylan with a new sense of musical vitality. As for the song itself, its lyrics — cryptic even by Dylan’s standards — take on new meanings when charged by the young band’s energy. But even in this highly contemporary musical context, Dylan keeps it “classic” by bringing out the harmonica for a final solo, though not without some confusion as to which key he needed. If anything, that mix-up makes the song even more punk — or maybe post-punk, possibly new wave, but in any case thoroughly Dylan.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Space Sex is Serious Business: A Hilarious Short Animation Addresses Serious Questions About Human Reproduction in Space

Por Ayun Halliday

Back in the late 80s, there was a rumor floating around that Earth Girls Are Easy.

40 some years of scientific and social advancement have shifted the conversational focus.

We’re just now beginning to understand that Space Sex is Serious Business.

Particularly if SpaceX CEO Elon Musk achieves his goal of establishing a permanent human presence on Mars.

Surely at some point in their long travels to and residence on Mars, those pioneers would get down to business in much the same way that rats, fruit flies, parasitic wasps, and Japanese rice fish have while under observation on prior space expeditions.


Meanwhile, we’re seriously lacking in human data.

A pair of human astronauts, Jan Davis and Mark Lee, made history in 1992 as the first married couple to enter space together, but NASA insisted their relations remained strictly professional for the duration, and that a shuttle’s crew compartment is too small for the sort of antics a nasty-minded public kept asking about.

In an interview with Mens Health, Colonel Mike Mullane, a veteran of three space missions, confirmed that a spacecraft’s layout doesn’t favor romance:

The only privacy would have been in the air lock, but everybody would know what you were doing. You’re not out there doing a spacewalk. There’s no reason to be in there.

Shortly after Davis and Lee returned to earth, NASA formalized an unspoken rule prohibiting husbands and wives from venturing into space together. It did little to squelch public interest in space sex.

One wonders if NASA’s rule has been rewritten in accordance with the times. Air lock aside, might same sex couples remain free to swing what hetero-normative marrieds (arguably) cannot?

This is but one of hundreds of space sex questions begging further consideration.

Some of the most serious are raised in Tom McCarten’s witty collage animation for FiveThirtyEight, above.

Namely how damaging will cosmic radiation and microgravity prove to human reproduction? As more humans toy with the possibility of leaving Earth, this question feels less and less hypothetical.

Maggie KoerthBaker, who researched and narrates the animated short, notes that Musk portrayed the risks of radiation as minor during a presentation at the 67th International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, and breathed not a peep as to the effects of microgravity.

Yet scientific studies of non-human space travelers document a host of reproductive issues including lowered libido, atypical hormone levels, ovulatory dysfunction, miscarriages, and fetal mutations.

On its webpage, NASA provides some information about the Reproduction, Development, and Sex Differences Laboratory of its Space Biosciences Research Branch, but remains mum on topics of pressing concern to, say, students in a typical middle school sex ed class.

Like achieving and maintaining erections in microgravity.

In Physiology News Magazine, Dr. Adam Watkins, associate professor of Reproductive and Developmental Physiology at the University of Nottingham, suggests that internal and external atmospheric changes would make such things, pardon the pun, hard:

Firstly, just staying in close contact with each other under zero gravity is hard. Secondly, as astronauts experience lower blood pressure while in space, maintaining erections and arousal are more problematic than here on Earth. 

The exceptionally forthright Col Mullane has some contradictory first hand experience that should come as a relief to all humankind:

A couple of times, I would wake up from sleep periods and I had a boner that I could have drilled through kryptonite.

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Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine and author, most recently, of Creative, Not Famous: The Small Potato Manifesto.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Google’s UX Design Professional Certificate: 7 Courses Helps Prepare Students for an Entry-Level Job in 6 Months

Por OC

During the pandemic, Google launched a series of Career Certificates that will “prepare learners for an entry-level role in under six months.” One such certificate focuses on User Experience Design, or what’s called UX Design, the process design teams use to create products that provide meaningful experiences to users.

Offered on the Coursera platform, the User Experience (UX) Design Professional Certificate features seven courses, including the Foundations of User Experience, Start the UX Design Process, Build Wireframes and Low-Fidelity Prototypes, and Conduct UX Research and Test Early Concepts. In total, this program “includes over 200 hours of instruction and hundreds of practice-based activities and assessments that simulate real-world UX design scenarios and are critical for success in the workplace. The content is highly interactive and developed by Google employees with decades of experience in UX design.” Upon completion, students can directly apply for jobs with Google and over 130 U.S. employers, including Walmart, Best Buy, and Astreya. You can start a 7-day free trial and explore the courses. If you continue beyond that, Google/Coursera will charge $39 USD per month. That translates to about $235 after 6 months.

Explore the User Experience (UX) Design Professional Certificate by watching the video above. Learn more about the overall Google career certificate initiative here. And find other Google professional certificates here.

The new certificates have been added to our collection, 200 Online Certificate & Microcredential Programs from Leading Universities & Companies.

Note: Open Culture has a partnership with Coursera. If readers enroll in certain Coursera courses and programs, it helps support Open Culture.

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Read the Original Serialized Edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses (1918)

Por Ted Mills

In the second decade of the 20th century, American editor Margaret C. Anderson published The Little Review, a monthly literary journal of modernist and experimental prose, poetry, and art. Four years into its existence, at the beginning of 1918, Anderson announced to her readers this:

“I have just received the first three instalments [sic] of James Joyce’s new novel which is to run serially in The Little Review, beginning with the March number.
It is called “Ulysses”.
It carries on the story of Stephen Dedalus, the central figure in ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”.
It is, I believe, even better than the “Portrait”.
So far it has been read by only one critic of international reputation. He says: “It is certainly worth running a magazine if one can get stuff like this to put in it. Compression, intensity. It looks to me rather better than Flaubert”.
This announcement means that we are about to publish a prose masterpiece.”

February 2, 2022 marked the 100th anniversary of Ulysses, the day on which the full novel, first serialized in The Little Review, was published. Joyce, like many of The Little Review’s British and European writers, came to Anderson through her fellow editor Ezra Pound. Anderson might have sensed the greatness that was to come and she knew the danger in that greatness. In the end, publishing Ulysses would make her an enemy of the state.

Over at the Modernist Journals Project, you can read every single issue of The Little Review (and other such magazines) to place this revolutionary novel in context. The March 1918 issue which begins the journey of Dedalus and Leopold Bloom also features works by Wyndham Lewis and Ezra Pound, Ford Madox Ford, Jessica Dismorr, and Arthur Symons; letters (and some hate mail) from readers; advertisements for other literary magazines like The Quill, The Pagan, and The Egoist; ads for restaurants in Greenwich Village, and one for the Berlitz School of Languages; and a final appeal for more readers.


The most interesting of these sections is Pound’s screed against American obscenity laws. The Little Review had already had an issue confiscated by the US Post Office. In 1917, a Wyndham Lewis story about a soldier who gets a girl pregnant and abandons her was declared obscene, both for “lewdness” and its anti-war stance. Pound suspected the government was targeting Anderson and her co-editor (and lover) Jane Heap for their support of anarchists Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, along with their anti-war stances.

The Wyndham Lewis incident had made it difficult for Anderson and Heap to find a publisher, so they knew some of the risks in beginning the serial. Soon enough they ran into trouble. Ulysses consists of 18 chapters or “Episodes”. The US government seized the issues featuring Episode 8 (“Lestrygonians”), Episode 9 (“Scylla and Charybdis”), and Episode 12 (“Cyclops”) and burned them. But it was Episode 13, “Nausicaa,” that led to charges being filed against the publishers. The chapter, which features a girl exposing herself and Leopold Bloom masturbating to orgasm (but written in such a, well, Joycean way that most would just miss it), was too much for some.

The trial that followed was a travesty, including a judge ruling that the offensive sections of “Nausicaa” not be read out loud because a woman was present. When it was pointed out that the woman was the publisher Anderson herself, he declared  “she didn’t know the significance of what she was publishing”. Anderson and Heap were found guilty, forced to discontinue publishing “Ulysses” and fined one hundred dollars.

The Little Review printed a section of Episode 14 (“Oxen of the Sun”) and then stopped. Anderson thought of giving up the magazine, but turned over control to Heap. The magazine continued publishing until 1929, but removed their motto: “Making No Compromise with the Public Taste.”

James Joyce did not stop, however, and Sylvia Beach—an ex-pat living in Paris and running the bookstore Shakespeare and Co.—published the full novel in 1922. Americans would have to wait one more year, 1923, to read this “obscene” novel.

Anderson was correct however—-she had a major role in promoting this “prose masterpiece.” And one hundred years later, Puritanical Americans are still banning and burning books, which is only resulting, like it did for Joyce’s novel, in sending the works into the Best Seller lists.

Related content:

Sylvia Beach Tells the Story of Founding Shakespeare and Company, Publishing Joyce’s Ulysses, Selling Copies of Hemingway’s First Book & More (1962)

James Joyce’s Ulysses: Download as a Free Audio Book & Free eBook

Virginia Woolf on James Joyce’s Ulysses, “Never Did Any Book So Bore Me.” Shen Then Quit at Page 200

James Joyce’s Crayon Covered Manuscript Pages for Ulysses and Finnegans Wake

Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the Notes from the Shed podcast and is the producer of KCRW’s Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, and/or watch his films here.

John Locke’s Personal Pancake Recipe: “This Is the Right Way” to Make the Classic Breakfast Treat

Por Colin Marshall

No student of Western political philosophy can ignore John Locke, whose work defined the concepts of governance we now know as liberalism. By the same token, no student of Western cuisine can ignore pancakes, a canonical element of what we now know as breakfast. The oldest pancake recipe we’ve featured here on Open Culture dates to 1585. Ernest Hemingway had his own preferred pancake-making method; so do Simon and Garfunkel, though theirs are of the potato variety.

Locke, as you might imagine, opted for a more traditionally English recipe. Three centuries on, how well his vision of liberalism has held up remains a matter of active debate. As for his pancakes, Marissa Nicosia at Cooking in the Archives put them to the test just last year. “When David Armitage posted this recipe for pancakes in the Bodleian collection on Twitter, I knew that I wanted to try it,” Nicosia writes. Her transcription is as follows:

pancakes
Take sweet cream 3/4 + pint. Flower a
quarter of a pound. Eggs four 7 leave out two 4 of
the whites. Beat the Eggs very well. Then put in
the flower, beat it a quarter of an hower. Then
put in six spoonfulls of the Cream, beat it a litle
Take new sweet butter half a pound. Melt it to oyle, &
take off the skum, power in all the clear by degrees
beating it all the time. Then put in the rest of
your cream. beat it well. Half a grated nutmeg
& litle orangeflower water. Frie it without butter.
This is the right way

“From the start, I was intrigued by the cross-outs and other notes in the recipe. It appears that it was first drafted (or prepared) using significantly fewer eggs.” As meticulous in his cooking as in his philosophy, Locke clearly paid close attention to “the details of separating and whisking eggs as well as adding just the right amount of orange blossom water (‘litle’) and nutmeg (‘Half a grated nutmeg’) — an exceptional, expensive amount.”

Drawing on her significant experience with early modern pancakes, Nicosia describes Locke’s version as “a bit fluffier and fattier than a classic French crêpe,” though with “far less rise than my favorite American breakfast version”; her husband places them “somewhere between a classic English pancake and a Scotch pancake.” Perhaps that somewhat northerly taste and texture stands to reason, in light of the considerable influence Locke’s non-pancake-related work would later have on the Scottish Enlightenment.

The final line of Locke’s recipe, “This is the right way,” may sound a bit stern in context today. But whether you work straight from his original or from the updated version Nicosia provides in her post, you should end up with “pancakes made for a decadent breakfast.” Locke’s inclusion of an extravagant amount of nutmeg and splash of orange-blossom water “elevates this specific pancake recipe to a special treat.” Nicosia includes a picture of her own honey-drizzled Lockean breakfast with the a copy of Two Treatises of Government and a cup of coffee — the latter being an especially ideal accompaniment to pancakes, and one that also comes thoroughly philosopher-endorsed.

via Rare Cooking

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Hear Benedict Cumberbatch Reading Letters by Kurt Vonnegut, Alan Turing, Sol LeWitt, and Others

Por Colin Marshall

Many know Benedict Cumberbatch as neurosurgeon-turned-Master of the Mystic Arts Doctor Strange. Originally created in the 1960s by Marvel Comics artist and writer Steve Ditko, the character has gained a new fan following through the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In 2016’s Doctor Strange, the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and several other MCU pictures besides, he’s been played by Benedict Cumberbatch. Open Culture readers may know Cumberbatch better as the 21st-century detective protagonist of the BBC series Sherlock — or, even more likely, as a reader-out-loud of historical and literary letters.

We’ve previously featured Cumberbatch’s onstage renditions of everything from Albert Camus’ thank-you note to his elementary school teacher to Kurt Vonnegut’s advice to the people of the year 2088 to Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. Now we’ve rounded up more letter-readings in the ten-video playlist above.


Beginning with Sol LeWitt’s letter of advice to Eva Hesse, it continues on to Cumberbatch’s readings of other such works as “the best cover letter ever written,” more than one missive by the pioneering and persecuted computer scientist Alan Turing, a “letter about crabs (not the kind you eat)” by Patrick Leigh Fermor, and a Richard Nixon’s William Safire-composed speech to be read in the event that Apollo 11 didn’t return to Earth.

The material in this correspondence, all of which Cumberbatch reads aloud for Letters of Note‘s Letters Live project, varies considerable in both tone and content. Little of it resembles the comic-book or detective-novel material with which he has won mainstream fame. But like any good actor, Cumberbatch knows how to tailor his performative persona to each new context without losing the innate sensibility that sets him apart. At the same time, he clearly understands how to interpret not just different characters, realistic as well as fantastical, but also the personalities of real human beings who actually lived. Whatever other pleasures it offers, hearing Cumberbatch read letters underscores the fact that we could all do much worse than to be played by him in the movie of our life.

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“Stop It and Just DO”: Benedict Cumberbatch Reads Advice on Overcoming Creative Blocks, Written by Sol LeWitt to Eva Hesse (1965)

Hear Benedict Cumberbatch Read John Keats’ “Ode to a Nightingale” and Other Great Works by Shakespeare, Dante & Coleridge

Hear Moby-Dick Read in Its Entirety by Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, John Waters, Stephen Fry & More

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Hear Benedict Cumberbatch Reading Letters by Kurt Vonnegut, Alan Turing, Sol LeWitt, and Others is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, 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.

How a Fake Cartoon Band Made “Sugar Sugar” the Biggest Selling Hit Single of 1969

Por Ted Mills

Rock critic Lester Bangs described bubblegum pop as “the basic sound of rock ‘n’ roll – minus the rage, fear, violence and anomie.” The short-lived genre had its roots in the Please Please Me era of the Beatles’ minus the sex and the sarcasm. But from the Beatles we can trace a pretty solid path to the Archies. Not that we deserved this band as an inevitability, but the cartoon concoction is one of a thousand variants from that infectious strain of post-war pop.

The Archie’s lasting legacy is one single: the bonafide earworm, “Sugar Sugar.” Written by Jeff Barry and Andy Kim, it was a real number one single (it knocked the Rolling Stones’ “Honky Tonk Woman” off the throne in 1969) sung by a completely fake band, namely the cast of Archie Comics, the five or six perpetual teenagers that have been around since 1941.


How we got there, we must go back to the Beatles. Once the Fab Four had started to quickly outgrow their innocent image, King Features turned the four into a Saturday Morning cartoon show in 1965 so their Richard Lester-inspired antics could continue apace. This then led producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider to ask themselves: why use the Beatles when America could manufacture its own? The Monkees were born in 1966: three Americans and one Brit sorta-moptops who starred in a sitcom based around their own hilarious, failed attempts to be as good as John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Music Supervisor Don Kirshner came from a career at the Brill Building, launching the careers of Neil Diamond, Carole King, and Tony Orlando, and on the Monkees, he was in charge of seeking out songwriters for the group, along with studio musicians, calling in the band to sing only when necessary. This led to “Last Train to Clarksville” (Boyce and Hart), “Daydream Believer” (John Stewart) and “I’m a Believer” (Diamond), all solid hits. But that dismissiveness of the actors’ own talents led to tensions in the band, especially Michael Nesmith, who had his own country-leaning interests. Upon hearing “Sugar, Sugar” as a possible Monkees song, Nesmith absolutely refused. “It’s a piece of junk,” he told Kirshner. “I’m not doing it.”

Kirshner returned home knowing that the song could be a hit. His son Ricky was reading Archie comic books, and the idea formed-—why not turn the comic into a band, and have them perform the single. (The rights for the Archie characters at that time were very affordable.)

So take a rejected Monkees song, add a bit of Beatles-style, cheapo animation, and a guaranteed promotion machine (television) and “Sugar, Sugar” turned into a hit. Initially reluctant to play a fake band, pop radio started playing the single two months after its initial release, from May to July, and it would go on to spend 22 weeks in the chart, four of them at Number One. It was Billboard’s Number One song of the year for 1969, a year better known for the crumbling of the Summer of Love. Rape, murder, it was just a shot away. But so was that “candy girl” and that “honey, honey” and why wouldn’t people choose the latter?

The Archies released five albums in total, only the first featuring the comic characters on the cover. But they all continued in the bubble gum vein, written by a small stable of songwriters such as Ritchie Adams, Jeff Barry, Robert Levine, Gene Allen, and others. Rob Dante sang the lead vocals; Toni Wine sang both Betty and Veronica (the latter had the higher register).

Unlike the Monkees, who embraced the pop psychedelia in the culture and put out a grand folly of a movie called Head (with Frank Zappa! and Ringo Starr!), the Archies just kept banging out bubblegum until it turned into sunshine (the name of their third album) and the fad had passed. Fifty years later, “Sugar, Sugar,” remains a good pop song. Wilson Pickett even covered it, injecting some much needed soul into the proceedings.

The idea of a fake, cartoon pop group has never gone away. In fact, Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz project (which has been around for some 20 years now!) showed the benefits that can be had when cartoons take over the image and let the musicians work in the background. Can we give the Archies some of the credit? Chew on that, why don’t ya.

via Rolling Stone

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Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the Notes from the Shed podcast and is the producer of KCRW’s Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, and/or watch his films here.

How a Fake Cartoon Band Made “Sugar Sugar” the Biggest Selling Hit Single of 1969 is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, 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.

A New Album of Goth-Folk Songs Inspired by the Life of Marie Curie

Por Ayun Halliday

After several years of writing and performing songs influenced by such sources as authors Edward Gorey and Raymond Chandler, filmmaker Tim Burton, and murder ballads in the American folk tradition, Ellia Bisker and Jeffrey Morris, known collectively as Charming Disaster, began casting around for a single, existing narrative that could sustain an album’s worth of original tunes.

An encounter with Lauren Redniss’s graphic novel Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout spurred them to look more deeply at the Nobel Prize-winning scientist and her pioneering discoveries.

The result is Our Lady of Radium, a nine song exploration of Curie’s life and work.

The crowdfunded album, recorded during the pandemic, is so exhaustively researched that the accompanying illustrated booklet includes a bibliography with titles ranging from David I. Harvie’s technically dense Deadly Sunshine: The History and Fatal Legacy of Radium to Deborah Blum’s The Poisoner’s Handbook, described by The New York Observer as “a vicious, page-turning story that reads more like Raymond Chandler than Madame Curie.”

A chapter in the The Poisoner’s Handbook introduced Bisker and Morris to the Radium Girls, young workers whose prolonged exposure to radium-based paint in early 20th-century clock factories had horrific consequences.

In La Porte v. United States Radium Corporation (1935) prosecutors detailed the conditions under which the luminous dials of inexpensive watch faces were produced:

Each girl procured a tray containing twenty-four watch dials and the material to be used to paint the numerals upon them so that they would appear luminous. The material was a powder, of about the consistency of cosmetic powder, and consisted of phosphorescent zinc sulphide mixed with radium sulphate…The powder was poured from the vial into a small porcelain crucible, about the size of a thimble. A quantity of gum arabic, as an adhesive, and a thinner of water were then added, and this was stirred with a small glass rod until a paintlike substance resulted. In the course of a working week each girl painted the dials contained on twenty-two to forty-four such trays, depending upon the speed with which she worked, and used a vial of powder for each tray. When the paint-like substance was produced a girl would employ it in painting the figures on a watch dial. There were fourteen numerals, the figure six being omitted. In the painting each girl used a very fine brush of camel’s hair containing about thirty hairs. In order to obtain the fine lines which the work required, a girl would place the bristles in her mouth, and by the action of her tongue and lips bring the bristles to a fine point. The brush was then dipped into the paint, the figures painted upon the dial until more paint was required or until the paint on the brush dried and hardened, when the brush was dipped into a small crucible of water. This water remained in the crucible without change for a day or perhaps two days. The brush would then be repointed in the mouth and dipped into the paint or even repointed in such manner after being dipped into the paint itself, in a continuous process.

The band found themselves haunted by the Radium Girls’ story:

Partly it’s that it seemed like a really good job — it was clean work, it was less physically taxing and paid better than factory or mill jobs, the working environment was nice — and the workers were all young women. They were excited about this sweet gig, and then it betrayed them, poisoning them and cutting their lives short in a horrible way. 

There were all these details we learned that we couldn’t stop thinking about. Like the fact that radium gets taken up by bone, which then starts to disintegrate because radium isn’t as hard as calcium. The Radium Girls’ jaw bones were crumbling away, because they (were instructed) to use their lips to point the brushes when painting watch faces with radium-based paint. 

The radium they absorbed was irradiating them from inside, from within their own bones. 

Radium decays into radon, and it was eventually discovered that the radium girls were exhaling radon gas. They could expose a photographic plate by breathing on it. Those images—the bones and the breath—stuck with us in particular.

Fellow musician, Omer Gal, of the “theatrical freak folk musical menagerie” Cookie Tongue, heightens the sense of dread in his chilling stop-motion animation for Our Lady of Radium’s first music video, above. There’s no question that a tragic fate awaits the crumbling, uncomprehending little worker.

Before their physical symptoms started to manifest, the Radium Girls believed what they had been told — that the radium-based paint they used on the timepieces’ faces and hands posed no threat to their well being.

Compounding the problem, the paint’s glow-in-the-dark properties proved irresistible to high-spirited teens, as the niece of Margaret “Peg” Looney — 17 when she started work at the Illinois Radium Dial Company (now a Superfund Site) — recounted to NPR:

I can remember my family talking about my aunt bringing home the little vials (of radium paint.) They would go into their bedroom with the lights off and paint their fingernails, their eyelids, their lips and then they’d laugh at each other because they glowed in the dark.

Looney died at 24, having suffered from anemia, debilitating hip pain, and the loss of teeth and bits of her jaw. Although her family harbored suspicions as to the cause of her bewildering decline, no attorney would take their case. They later learned that the Illinois Radium Dial Company had arranged for medical tests to be performed on workers, without truthfully advising them of the results.

Eventually, the mounting death toll made the connection between workers’ health and the workplace impossible to ignore. Lawsuits such as La Porte v. United States Radium Corporation led to improved industrial safety regulations and other labor reforms.

Too late, Charming Disaster notes, for the Radium Girls themselves:

(Our song) Radium Girls is dedicated to the young women who were unwittingly poisoned by their work and who were ignored and maligned in seeking justice. Their plight led to laws and safeguards that eventually became the occupational safety protections we have today. Of course that is still a battle that’s being fought, but it started with them. We wanted to pay tribute to these young women, honor their memory, and give them a voice.  

Preorder Charming Disaster’s Our Lady of Radium here.

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Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine and author, most recently, of Creative, Not Famous: The Small Potato Manifesto.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

A New Album of Goth-Folk Songs Inspired by the Life of Marie Curie is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, 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.

How Karl Marx Influenced Abraham Lincoln and His Position on Slavery & Labor

Por Josh Jones

If resistance to the Slave Power was the reserved watchword of your first election, the triumphant war cry of your re-election is Death to Slavery.

In 1864, Karl Marx and his International Working Men’s Association (the “First International”) sent an address to Abraham Lincoln, congratulating “the American people upon your re-election by a large majority.” As historian Robin Blackburn writes, “The US ambassador in London conveyed a friendly but brief response from the president. However, the antecedents and implications of this little exchange are rarely considered.” It was not the first time Marx and Lincoln had encountered each other. They never met personally, but their affinities led to what Blackburn calls an “unfinished revolution” — not a communist revolution in the U.S.; but a potential revolution for democracy.

Lincoln and Marx became mutual admirers in the early 1860s due to the latter’s work as a foreign correspondent for The New York Daily Tribune. From 1852 until the start of the Civil War, Marx, sometimes with Engels, wrote “over five hundred articles for the Tribune,” Blackburn notes. Fiercely anti-slavery, Marx compared Southern planters to the European aristocracy, “an oligarchy of 300,000 slaveholders.” Early in the war, he championed the Union cause, even before Lincoln decided on emancipation as a course of action. Marx believed, writes Blackburn, that ending slavery “would not destroy capitalism, but it would create conditions far more favorable to organizing and elevating labor, whether white or black.”


“Marx was intensely interested in the plight of American slaves,” Gillian Brockell writes at The Washington Post. “In January 1860, he told Engels that the two biggest things happening in the world were ‘on the one hand the movement of the slaves in America started by the death of John Brown, and on the other the movement of serfs in Russia.'” Lincoln was an “avid reader” of the Tribune and Marx’s articles. The paper’s managing editor, Charles A. Dana, an American socialist fluent in German who met Marx in 1848, would go on to become “Lincoln’s ‘eyes and ears’ as a special commissioner in the War Department” and later the Department’s Assistant Secretary.

Lincoln was not, of course, a Communist. And yet some of the ideas he absorbed from Marx’s Tribune writings — many of which would later be adapted for the first volume of Capital — made their way into the Republican Party of the 1850s and 60s. That party, writes Brockell, was “anti-slavery, pro-worker and sometimes overtly socialist,” championing, for example, the redistribution of land in the West. (Marx even considered emigrating to Texas himself at one time.) And at times, Lincoln could sound like a Marxist, as in the closing words of his first annual message (later the State of the Union ) in 1961.

“Labor is prior to and independent of capital,” the country’s 16th president concluded in the first speech since his inauguration. “Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.” That full, 7,000 word address appeared in newspapers around the country, including the Confederate South. The Chicago Tribune subtitled its closing arguments “Capital vs. Labor.”

Lincoln’s own position on abolition evolved throughout his presidency, as did his views on the position of the formerly enslaved within the country. For Marx, however, the questions of total abolition and full enfranchisement were settled long before the country entered the Civil War. The democratic revolution that might have begun under Lincoln ended with his assassination. In the summer after the president’s death, Marx received a letter from his friend Engels about the new president, Andrew Johnson: “His hatred of Negroes comes out more and more violently… If things go on like this, in six months all the old villains of secession will be sitting in Congress at Washington. Without colored suffrage, nothing whatever can be done there.” Hear the address Marx drafted to Lincoln for his 1865 re-election read aloud at the top of the post, and read it yourself here.

For more on this subject, you can read Blackburn’s book, An Unfinished Revolution: Karl Marx and Abraham Lincoln.

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

How Karl Marx Influenced Abraham Lincoln and His Position on Slavery & Labor is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, 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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