Crusade against Cthulhu

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Robert Altbauer created this series of illustrations depicting crusaders meeting the HP Lovecraft's monsters, annotated in medieval Middle High German. Read the rest

King Arthur's grave was a hoax invented by cash-strapped 12th C monks

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Since the 12th century -- and up to this very day -- tourists venture to Somerset's Glastonbury Abbey to see the grave of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere, allegedly buried in the churchyard by 12th century monks who discovered their skeletons in an underground tree-trunk. Read the rest

Nixon started the War on Drugs because he couldn't declare war on black people and hippies

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Nixon aide/Watergate jailbird John Ehrlichman confessed to Dan Baum that Richard Nixon started the War on Drugs because "We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities." Read the rest

An animated series about women who dared defy history

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Ordinary Women: Daring to Defy History is a video series about women overlooked by history raising production funds at crowdfunding site Seed & Spark. Creators Anita Sarkeesian, Laura Hudson (recently of Boing Boing and Offworld) and Elizabeth Aultman plan to feature Murasaki Shikibu, credited as the first modern novelist, 19th-century computer pioneer Ada Lovelace, womens' rights advocate Emma Goldman and others.

Unusually for a crowdfunded production, the series will be lavishly animated, reports Bustle, creating a work of art in its own right.

It's an exploration of women throughout history who have decimated gender stereotypes and contributed to humanity in truly impactful ways. The series will seek to remind us not only that these kinds of women — the rabble-rousers, the undercover reporters, the activists, the pirates — are extraordinary individuals, but also that women doing extraordinary things is actually quite ordinary. And that's a good thing. Here's why.

Women kicking ass and taking names shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, because we've been here all along, propping up society with our accomplishments. Unfortunately, the telling of history has a way of being whitewashed, male-focused, and more, excluding the contributions of far too many women, people of color, LGBTQ people, and other marginalized groups. With this new video series, Feminist Frequency hopes to address that glaring imbalance by bringing to life the stories of some of history's most rebellious and remarkable women.

USA Today reports that the creators hope it will inspire more women.

“We want to normalize these women in history,” says Sarkeesian.
Read the rest

Medusa's Web: Tim Powers is the Philip K Dick of our age

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Tim Powers is a fantasy writer who spins out tales of wild, mystic conspiracy that are so believable and weird, we're lucky he didn't follow L Ron Hubbard's example and found a religion, or we'd all be worshipping in his cult. Along with James Blaylock and KW Jeter, Powers was one of three young, crazy genre writers who served as Philip K Dick's proteges, and Powers gives us a glimpse of where Dick may have ended up if he'd managed to beat his own worst self-destructive impulses.

Awkward metal band photos

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Join me in the liminal space between deep culture horror and ironic satisfaction: Awkward metal band photos Read the rest

Poet/bureaucrat's moving report of the 1921 demise of America's most notorious wolf

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In 1921, the Custer Wolf -- a predator so prolific and terrifying that it rated its own documentary and biography -- was finally killed. Read the rest

Timeline: a visual history of our world

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See sample pages from this book at Wink.

I love the tidbits of history, the unique visual style, the subtle humor, and the breadth of coverage in Timeline: A Visual History of Our World. On each 10x29-inch page spread are whimsical curved text blocks filled with simply written – yet intriguing – historical facts. And each spread addresses one era of time. The book, which targets children 7 to 12-years old, starts with The Beginning of Life and includes a miniature image-based timeline of stromatolites, trilobites, ammonites and more. The author offers spreads dedicated to the major geological periods, as well as more brief and recent timespans. Our current decade is the last timeline covered, concluding with “As time goes by. . .” along with a person spreading black paint across the page.

The illustrations are fabulous. Goes uses a minimalist color palette that differs for each of his timelines. The Dinosaurs are on a wheat-toned page with black silhouettes accented by red and gold. The Ming Dynasty appears on a dusty rose background with dark pink and white accents, again using black as the major illustrative color. Goes' technique of black with two accent colors artfully draws the eye to visual vignettes on the page, while the curving text leads you to the next image. Wonderful. Engaging. Amusing.

This book makes for great conversational fodder. Did you know that, according to the page spread on 18th Century in Europe, “Mont Blanc was called Mon Maudit, or ‘cursed mountain,’ until the Enlightenment, when people stopped believing in curses”? Read the rest

Get inside Kathe Koja's Christopher Marlowe novel with a "bespoke edition" like no other

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Kathe Koja is one of literature's most versatile writers -- once the doyenne of "splatterpunk"; then the author a run of brilliant, touching YA novels; then the author of a darkly erotic war-trilogy -- and now she's doing something new and amazing. Read the rest

To download or stream: 1000 hours of classic jazz, mixed and annotated by a master collector

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David W Niven began collecting jazz records in 1925, when he was 10 years old. He continued to collect until 1991, amassing a nearly unparalleled collection of 78s and LPs, whose highlights he eventually transferred to cassette, boiling down 10,000 hours of music to 1,000 hours of tape with his spoken commentary, each cassette meticulously annotated with handwritten liner-notes. Read the rest

Great moments in the history of black science fiction

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Nisi "Writing the Other" (previously) Shawl has assembled a fantastic (in more ways than one) reading list for people interested in the history of science fiction written by black writers. Read the rest

KKK vs D&D: the surprising, high fantasy vocabulary of racism

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As John Holbo notes, the Ku Klux Klan's extensive, bizarre, fanciful "titles and vocabulary," set out in a 1916 volume called the "Kloran," has enough weirdness to match the Monster Manual for its "hydras, furies, nighthawks, giants, goblins, ghouls, titans, magi, monks, grand turks, dragons, wizards, cyclops." Read the rest

Rosa Parks's papers and photos online at the Library of Congress

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The Howard Buffet Foundation owns 7,500 manuscripts and 2,500 photos of civil rights hero Rosa Parks. They've loaned them to the Library of Congress, who've digitized them and posted them online. Read the rest

19th century spam came by post, prefigured modern spam in so many ways

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In the 19th century, the nascent advertising industry took notice of the fact that postmasters could send each other letters for free, and bribed them to forward packets of mail to one another to pass on to townspeople ("To Superintendent Sunday School OR ANY ONE INTERESTED IN MUSIC"). Read the rest

Photo of Bernie Sanders being arrested in 1963 Chicago protest

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Some of Sanders' Democratic Party adversaries have claimed that the Senator's history of principled stands has been short on racial equality, a charge that has required those opponents to claim that photos of Sanders being arrested at civil rights demonstrations are actually photos of someone else. Read the rest

1 billion hours played of Civilization

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Legendary game series Civilization is 25 years old this year, and Dean Takahashi reports on its long journey from revolutionary god game to a cultural touchstone in its own right.

Few game franchises live to see a 25th anniversary, but Civ, as most gamers and industry folk call it, is thriving. It has 33 million copies in sales to date, including 8 million for its latest, 2010’s Civilization V and its expansions. Meier’s teams at MicroProse and Firaxis have created 66 versions of the game across all platforms, and based on extrapolations from sales on the Steam digital distribution and community platform, the Civ series has been played for more than a billion hours.

Many hours were lost to this game, but my most enduring memory of its early iterations was the fact that city names had a short character limit. I thereby found, as a young teenager, that it honed my creative instincts for devising succinctly offensive city names. This "economy of stupidity" has proven a most valuable skill. Read the rest

The History of America according to South Park's Trey Parker in a 1992 student film

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"And the Americans headed to the West, the final frontier, to boldy go where no man has gone before, and kill a lot more Indians."

Read the rest

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