Haunting a Tiny House with Lady Delaney

Mysterious things that unfold with multiple mailings are all the rage, but some are infinitely better than others. Personally, I find those that include a murder with a nice spatter of blood to be among the more interesting. If there’s insanity involved, so much the better.

And thus we have The Haunted Dollhouse, a subtle tale of horror which takes place almost a century ago in New Orleans, and which is reliant upon you to do your part: you have to build the house. And there are puzzles to solve, as well, which reveal a narrative of misfortune and murder. What is that enormous bloodstain on the carpet in the parlor?

The pieces come delivered in four packages over the course of a month, each box containing items both small and large. When you’ve put in your time with a straight edge, X-Acto knife, small scissors, and the imaginatively titled “goo,” the end result is a miniature doll house that bears witness to a story of death, madness, and murder which occurred in 1923.

Numerous letters, newspaper articles, postcards, and miniature items (I’m quite fond of the bloody pair of scissors) to decorate said house come within the packages, all of which taken together with the house provide clues to a mystery.

Who killed who? Who’s dead? Who’s alive? Who’s nuts? Your recreation of the crime scene and the many pieces of evidence lead you down a curious path to the truth. When you have gathered sufficient evidence and puzzled it out, an online portfolio is revealed that, like a crystal ball, answers some questions. Read the rest

Drone footage of a massive star fort

Fort Bourtange is a 16th-century star fort that is now a museum. This drone footage captures the scope of the spectacular engineering feat. Read the rest

Gay bathhouse TV commercial from the 1970s

This commercial for New York City's Man's Country bathhouse aired in the late 1970s on Channel J, Manhattan's influential public access television channel.

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After Ways of Seeing, watch Robert Hughes' Shock of the New

In the Ways of Seeing post, commenter Frederick_Hagemeiste suggested the 1980 series Shock of the New. The first episode makes a compelling case that engineering had a vast influence on 20th century art. Read the rest

For sale: one 19th century Quebec village, slightly fake, $2.8M

Canadiana Village is an hour north of Montreal and sports 45 buildings that are intended to recreate rural Quebec life in the 19th century (though only one is habitable); and once served as a destination for school groups and film-crews. Now it's for sale for CAD$2.8M. Read the rest

The arc of history is long, but how do we bend it?

Ada Palmer -- novelist, singer, historian -- just dropped a 10,000 word essay on the nature of progress and historical change that has provided some of the most significant perspective on our own strange moment that I've yet to read -- and in so doing, has provided a set of mental tools for figuring out how to survive 2017 and beyond. Read the rest

This simple timeline puts the long, long history of slavery in perspective

The Twitter account @gloed_up shared this historical meme:

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Nitrous, weed, opium and peach-pits: the intoxicants of 18th C England

Historical novelist Debra Daley posts a master guide to the intoxicants of 18th century England, which ranged from modern favorites (laughing gas, cannabis) to historic classics (laudanum) to ratafia, "a sweet liqueur flavoured with peach or cherry kernels," which contained cyanogenic glycosides that broke down into fatal, insanity-causing hydrogen cyanide. Read the rest

The demons of Jacques Auguste Simon Collin de Plancy's Dictionnaire Infernal

In 1818, Jacques Auguste Simon Collin de Plancy published his Dictionnaire Infernal, but it wasn't until Henry Plon's sixth printing in 1863 that the book got its now-infamous illustrations, which are a world of wonderful. Read the rest

Haldeman's papers show Nixon conspired to extend the Vietnam war to improve his presidential chances

A newly discovered collection of notes written by Nixon aide HR Haldeman reveals that during Nixon's 68 presidential campaign, he illegally conspired to convince the South Vietnamese president, Nguyen Van Thieu, to scuttle the peace talks run by Nixon's political rival, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey. Read the rest

Frank Sinatra to George Michael on coping with fame: "Swing, man"

After he became a global phenomenon, George Michael considered retirement to get away from the demands of fame, telling the L.A. Times' Calendar magazine that he planned to reduce the strain of his celebrity status. One Frank Sinatra wrote in, exhorting him to continue cultivating his talent... Read the rest

Just in time for Hanukkah: Maccabees and Menorahs, a dreidel powered RPG

Randy sez, "Maccabees and Menorahs is a one page RPG played with a dreidel and gelt. Designed to run over 8 short sessions, one for each night of Hanukkah." Read the rest

The Triumph of the 1%

Colin Gordon at Dissent summarizes new national income statistics for America's wealthiest, something that seems likely to worsen under Trump. Since Reagan, the US has been been edging toward income share levels not seen since before World War II. Read the rest

Creepy vintage toys

Re-Tales, a blog specializing in the wonders and horrors of retailing, has an excellent selection of creepy vintage toys to enjoy. [via Metafilter]

The implicit appeal of these, I think, is that they were originally intended to be creepy, but have become unintentionally creepy. The primary amused-children creepiness of an one era becomes the unsettled-adults creepiness of another, but it's not really the same thing performing the work in each case. And, maybe, the real creepiness is in our appreciation of how the object slowly acquires its secondary creepiness. Read the rest

A map of ships buried under San Francisco Financial District

Much of San Francisco's Financial District used to be Yerba Buena Cove, where Gold Rush ships were abandoned in such numbers that many just rotted away till they sank.

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Women and African-American sf writers created trumpist dystopias because they were beta testing trumpism

Kameron "Geek Feminist Revolution" Hurley notes that writers like Octavia Butler crafted stories that feel eerily prescient of our present moments with books like Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents -- but not because they were fortune tellers, but because trumpism -- corrupt confiscation of wealth, overbroad policing powers, discriminatory hiring practices, impunity for violent abusers -- has been a daily fact of life for brown people, women and queer people. Read the rest

Feminist Frequency celebrates the brilliant life of Ada Lovelace

As part of her Ordinary Women series, Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency examines the impressive achievement of Ada Lovelace, the “mother” of computer programming.

You can also watch the Ordinary Women profiles on Ching Shih and Ida B. Wells:

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