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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William Gibson on individual privacy, governmental secrecy and the future of history

In a thoughtful New York Times editorial, science fiction giant William Gibson mediates on the difference between the privacy that individuals have and deserve, the privacy that governments assert ("What does it mean, in an ostensible democracy, for the state to keep secrets from its citizens?"), and what this will mean for the historians of the future. Read the rest

1000 years of royalty: nice map of Europe's nastiest families

Nadieh Breme's Royal Constellations is a delightful starry visualization of a millenium of familial connections between European royals, and it gets right down to business: "Royal & aristocratic families are known for their fondness of marrying within their own clique."

Pick any two and it draws a line between them, revealing ancestral lines going back to the beginning—from the kings of medieval Wales all the way to the Windsors. Read the rest

Old-timey mass evangelism and the phonograph

The Grammy nominations were announced today and along with Beyonce, Drake, Adele, and Kanye there was a nomination that went to music recorded by Ira D. Sankey, Winfield Weeden, Silas Leachman and the Rittersville Singing Club. No, those are not artists from today… In fact, those performers lived 125 years ago and their recordings have been newly compiled by a husband/wife team dedicated to bringing back to life the music of the post-Industrial Revolution 19th century.

Richard Martin and Meagan Hennessey have one collective dream, and that is to preserve, expose and celebrate the earliest eras of recorded sounds for new generations of listeners. Their label Archeophone Records has produced dozens of releases showcasing music created even before electricity got in the way. These are acoustic recordings created when the music industry was still “cutting wax” and "the business” was in its infancy. John Phillips Souza’s marches were chart toppers, along with sappy ballads and jocular tunes. The world was introduced to “Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight,” and of course, “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.”

Richard and Meagan collect the cylinders for each release, digitize the music found in the 100+ year old grooves, painstakingly master the tracks, rabbit-hole copious amounts of research about the recordings, the artists, and the era, and bring forth a truly amazing product that takes any listener back to a time long forgotten..an almost alien world.

And while in many circles they are known for their Grammy-winning expert work, nothing can prepare an enthusiast for their latest epic deep dive. Read the rest

Happy birthday to the world's oldest person!

Happy 117th birthday to Emma Morano of Verbenia, Italy! Morano is the oldest person on Earth and the last living individual born in the 19th century. From the BBC:

Ms Morano's longevity, she admits, is partly down to genetics - her mother reached 91 and several sisters reached their centenary - and partly, she says, down to a rather unusual diet of three eggs - two raw - each day for more than 90 years.

It was a regime she took up as a young woman, after the doctor diagnosed her with anaemia shortly after World War One.

These days, she has cut down to just two eggs a day, and a few biscuits.

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Kickstarting Soviet Daughter, a graphic novel memoir of coming of age in Ukraine after the Revolution

Elly from Microcosm publishing writes: "Our next book has been in the works for years, but as we launch our Kickstarter we find it's become terrifyingly current: Soviet Daughter is a rather swashbuckling story of her great-grandmother Lola, who came of age in the Soviet Ukraine, in the wake of the October Revolution." Read the rest

Street photographer's fantastic series of "then and now" photos

Peterborough, England photographer Chris Porsz's Reunions photo series and book presents his remarkable street snapshots of myriad characters taken in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s juxtapozed with those same individuals at the location of the original photographs. See more: Reunions

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A history of Chinese science fiction, from 475 BC to Cixin Liu

At the 2016 Hugos, a Chinese book in translation made history by winning for Best Novel: Cixin Liu's "Three Body Problem". Read the rest

That time Walt Disney's oppo researchers claimed his business rival was laundering money for Jimmy Hoffa

Len Testa writes, "Back in the early 1960's, Walt was interested in buying and developing the Mineral King ski area in California, which was being put up for sale by the U.S. government. Another potential bidder on the project was industrialist Robert Brandt, husband of Hollywood actress Janet Leigh." Read the rest

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