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The Smithsonian's Museums of Asian Art in Washington, DC is preparing the first large exhibition of yoga-related art. Titled "Yoga: The Art of Transformation," the show is really a look at the history of the practice that dates back as far as 500 BCE. According to Smithsonian, "the exhibition includes more than 100 temple sculptures, devotional icons, illustrated manuscripts, court paintings, photographs, books and films borrowed from 25 museums and private collections in India, Europe and the United States." You can get a preview of the art over at Smithsonian Magazine or donate to support the exhibit at the Smithsonian's Freer and Sackler Galleries. Above left, "Siddha Pratima Yantra" (Western India, dated 1333; Bronze, 21.9 x 13.1 x 8.9 cm.) "The negative space cut from a sheet of copper represents an advanced Jain practitioner (siddha) who has achieved disembodied enlightenment." Above right, "The Prince in Dange" (from The Magic Doe Woman, Mrigavati, attributed to Haribans, 1603-4, opaque watercolor and gold on paper, 28.3 x 17 cm.) A Preview of the World's First Exhibition on Yoga in Art
Here's a photo from Jacob Riis's 1890 classic "How the Other Half Lives," "an early publication... documenting squalid living conditions in New York City slums in the 1880s." It shows "Bandit’s Roost, at 59½ Mulberry Street (Mulberry Bend), was the most crime-ridden, dangerous part of all New York City."
Those guys are clearly total bad-asses.
The Encyclopedia of Life announces the winners of the Armchair Taxonomist competition featured here at Boing Boing. Everyone gets a warm thanks for helping to fill an open-source database with information about animals, plants, fungi, protozoa, and bacteria—but who gets to go on a tour of the Smithsonian?Read the rest
As the Prism/NSA leaks story unfolds, many Americans are left with a cynical "are you surprised?" response that rather misses the point. Recent American history is full of stories of spies using surveillance to target civil rights heroes like Martin Luther King, who was heavily surveilled during the Kennedy administration, culminating with the FBI sending him an anonymous package with evidence of his adultery and a note telling him to kill himself.
Here's a video and transcript of an excellent Chris Hayes editorial on MSNBC in which Hayes reminds us that America's spooks can and do use intelligence to attack causes that are later seen as being on the side of justice:
In 1964, after Hoover called King the most "notorious liar in the country" in a press conference, a package was sent to King in the mail, a package the House select committee ultimately traced back to the FBI. Inside this package, one of the most remarkable artifacts in American history was an anonymous letter addressed to Martin Luther King and a copy of an electronic surveillance tape apparently to lend credence to threats of exposure of derogatory personal information made in the letter. We don't know to this day for sure what was on that tape. The heavy speculation throughout the years it was of personal and sexual nature recorded by a device planted in Dr. King's hotel room.
The letter that came with the tape read in part, "you know you are complete fraud and a great liability to all of us negroes. The American public will know you for what you are, an evil abnormal beast. King, there is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. You are done. There is but one way out for you. You better take it before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation." The committee considered it highly likely that Director Hoover had before the fact knowledge of the action.
So that's a letter encouraging Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to kill himself, sent to King from the FBI. This happened in American history. It's just one example out of many of how the full weight of the surveillance state constructed to fight the cold war was used against the people working for racial equality. It may have been constructed to defeat the Russians and the genuine threat of global communism, but it was deployed on people like Carmichael and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
In Washington today, US officials and U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum representatives announced the seizure of a long-lost diary maintained by a close confidant of Adolf Hitler.
The recovery of this historical document was the result of an extensive investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The author of the so-called "Rosenberg Diary" was Alfred Rosenberg, a leading member of the Third Reich and of the Nazi Party during World War II.
Rosenberg was one of the intellectual authors behind key Nazi beliefs, including persecution of Jewish people, expansionist “lebensraum” (living space) ideology, the "master race" theory, and the rejection of modern art as "degenerate." He was tried at Nuremberg, sentenced to death, and hanged on October 16, 1946, after having been convicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The diary will eventually be displayed in the Holocaust Museum. More photos, video from the press conference where the seizure was announced, video of Rosenberg speaking, and more of the story behind this important historic artifact are below.
Here's a WWI-era advert for whale steaks. As Bruce Sterling notes, "There’s heaps of whale meat here in the First World War. So much we can’t swallow it all. Cheaper than tuna."
In 1971, this ferret played a key role in the construction of particle accelerators at Fermilab's Meson Laboratory. As sections of vacuum chamber were connected together, Felicia would run through them, dragging a string. After she had carried the string all the way through, researchers would use the line to run a rag doused in cleaning solution through the long, narrow tubes.
Particle physics is seldom this adorable, and Felicia became a media star — until her retirement in December of 1971 (scientists replaced her with a vacuum-chamber-cleaning robot). She died the next year of an intestinal abscess. But her memory lives on.
Thanks, Jennifer Ouellette!
Thanks, Jennifer Ouellette!
Star Trek actor George Takei writes about being interned in Arkansas and California internment camps along with his Japanese-American family during WWII, a particularly important rememberance in the face of the out-of-control US spying revealed in the Edward Snowden leaks:
As I write this, once again the national dialogue turns to defining our enemies, the impulse to smear whole communities or people with the actions of others still too familiar and raw. Places like the museum and Rohwer camp exist to remind us of the dangers and fallibility of our democracy, which is only as strong as the adherence to our constitutional principles renders it. People like myself and those veterans lived through that failure, and we understand how quickly cherished liberties and freedom may slip away or disappear utterly.
From the 2011 D23 expo, here's a one-hour presentation by Imagineer Tony Baxter of a trove of vintage, rarely/never seen footage documenting the construction and renovation of Disneyland. The presentation is lively, the footage, amazing. There's so much to love here -- scenes of Imagineers lovingly adding scorchmarks to the sails of the Pirates of the Caribbean galleon with a blowtorch, construction workers tightrope-walking on the Monorail beam, and many, many skybuckets.
On a train from Portland to Oakland last week, my husband and I were startled to pass the rotting carcasses of dozens of battleships, moored together in clusters in a still, reedy bay north of San Francisco.
Turns out, our Navy stockpiles warships the same way we stockpile nuclear weapons. These boats were, originally, meant to be waiting in reserve, ready to go fight when needed. At the peak, there were 400 of them in Suisun Bay. But that was a long time ago. Today, the ships rusted hulks that leech heavy metals and other contaminants into the surrounding water. Their numbers have been shrinking in the last few years as ships were moved and dismantled for recycling. Fewer than 55 remain today. By 2017, they should all be gone.
In 2011, photographer Scott Haefner published a series of photos taken over the course of two years as he and two other photographers managed to slip past the ships' security detail and document the ruins, inside and out. At his site, you can see the photos (obviously much better than mine, above) and read the story of how the shots were taken (it involves reconnaissance missions and the purchase of an inflatable raft — not to mention whole weekends spent living aboard the ghost ships). The results are fantastic.
Thanks to Graham Coop for the link to Scott Haefner's photos!