Iranian woman in the era before the Islamic revolution, 1960… via.
Author Archives: postroad
In July 2012, a few months before he was to officially take over as president of the College Board, David Coleman invited Les Perelman, then a director of writing at M.I.T., to come meet with him in Lower Manhattan. Of the many things the College Board does — take part in research, develop education policy, create curriculums — it is perhaps most recognized as the organization that administers the SAT, and Perelman was one of the exam’s harshest and most relentless critics. Since 2005, when the College Board added an essay to the SAT (raising the total possible score from 1,600 to 2,400), Perelman had been conducting research that highlighted what he believed were the inherent absurdities in how the essay questions were formulated and scored. His earliest findings showed that length, more than any other factor, correlated with a high score on the essay. More recently, Perelman coached 16 students who were retaking the test after having received mediocre scores on the essay section. He told them that details mattered but factual accuracy didn’t. “You can tell them the War of 1812 began in 1945,” he said. He encouraged them to sprinkle in little-used but fancy words like “plethora” or “myriad” and to use two or three preselected quotes from prominent figures like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, regardless of whether they were relevant to the question asked. Fifteen of his pupils scored higher than the 90th percentile on the essay when they retook the exam, he said.
What is music? There’s no end to the parade of philosophers who have wondered about this, but most of us feel confident saying: ‘I know it when I hear it.’ Still, judgments of musicality are notoriously malleable. That new club tune, obnoxious at first, might become toe-tappingly likeable after a few hearings. Put the most music-apathetic individual in a household where someone is rehearsing for a contemporary music recital and they will leave whistling Ligeti. The simple act of repetition can serve as a quasi-magical agent of musicalisation. Instead of asking: ‘What is music?’ we might have an easier time asking: ‘What do we hear as music?’ And a remarkably large part of the answer appears to be: ‘I know it when I hear it again.’
Psychologists have understood that people prefer things they’ve experienced before at least since Robert Zajonc first demonstrated the ‘mere exposure effect’ in the 1960s.
Washington, D.C., circa 1920. “Washington Times, 2104 16th Street S.E.” Home of the 20-step program.
Gordon Parks, Commuters, New York City, 1946 (152.1983)
via Fans in a Flashbulb.
This is a photograph of Mrs. Fanny Parrott, an ex-slave. The photograph was taken in Greene County Georgia in 1941….via.
THE OTHER DAY this guy tried to kill me. Or anyway, he expressed an eager willingness to kill me.
—Jen and I work out at the Y in Biltmore Park, a planned urban development (PUD) in South Asheville featuring upscale condominiums and bookstores and coffee shops- several acres of curtainwall and corrugated steel and textured concrete. In spite of the contemporary styling, there’s something nostalgic about Biltmore Park. Something Mayberry. Maybe it’s the Town Square©- a charming grassy quad with benches and saplings- or the fact that all the streets have names that sound like Celestial Seasonings herbal teas: Dayflower Drive, Bearberry Lane, Heathbrook Circle. Two-story photo advertisements on the facades of Barnes & Noble and Orvis provide a template of expectations for the place: affluent mature people, primarily but not exclusively white, in overpriced sports gear, enjoying outdoor fun with their (visiting from New England) grandkids. A little black girl blows bubbles with a bubble wand. A young stylish possibly Hispanic couple sips lattes, hand in hand. Biltmore Park screams old neighborhood simpler times clean lines modern convenience measured inclusivity.
A new dinosaur has been identified and it’s a real beast, winning the title of largest terrestrial predator in Europe. Torvosaurus gurneyi would have been around 10 metres long and weighed in at four or five tonnes, with teeth of 10cm perfect for chowing down on other dinosaurs unfortunate enough to cross its path.
—Basically, if Jurassic Park was set in Europe, T. gurneyi would have to have the starring role.
—The discovery was made by Portuguese researchers Christophe Hendrickx and Octávio Mateus, who published their work in PLOS One. Amateur collector Aart Wallen first discovered the dinosaur fossils in 2003, in the cliffs of Lourinhã, a known fossil hotspot in northern Portugal.
Why you should care
Archaeologist and cancer survivor Kathryn Hunt is on a personal quest to unlock the secrets of cancer’s ancient origins, which may hold the key to prevention, detection and treatment today.
Kathryn Hunt was a carefree, Ultimate Frisbee-playing, archaeology-loving 22-year-old when doctors detected a large tumor engulfing her right ovary. The diagnosis: malignant ovarian cancer. Around the same time, her aunt died of a rare form of cancer; she was 37.
read. see photos..then you decide]
By Kate Baklitskaya, Go East…This is the clearest evidence that our ancestors speared and killed the extinct giant.
—’How did the weapon enter the body of the animal going through thick skin and flesh, and hit the bone?’. Picture: Kate Baklitskaya, Go East
—These unique photographs seen by the world for the first time show the wounded vertebrae of the woolly mammoth found in Siberia. Forensic evidence proves the hole was made by a spear or javelin, meaning the huge creature was slain by ancient man some 13,470 years ago.
—It does not answer the conundrum that still puzzles scientists: why did the mammoths vanish from the face of the planet? Man’s butchery may have been a factor, but can it really be the only one? Our exclusive pictures from Khanty-Mansiysk show the remains of a mammoth located a dozen years ago close to the confluence of the rivers Ob and Irtysh in the west of Siberia.
—The images show the thoracic vertebrae of a mammoth, which in all probability was marooned in a clay swamp when the hunters went in for the kill.
Turns out taking Instagram-worthy photos of old, broken buildings is an ancient art, the likes of which is being celebrated at the Tate Britain’s new show ‘Ruin Lust.’
—If you talk to people in Detroit, you’ll find they are fed up with “ruin porn” and sick of the disaster tourists who stalk their neighborhoods looking for crumbling images of a once-thriving city.
—It’s unlikely to improve their mood, but academics claim they can trace those prying eyes back through hundreds of years of art, photography and literature. Renaissance painters captured the fall of Rome, etchings from the 1700s focused on decaying buildings and artists throughout the 20th century returned over and over again to the same motifs and styles
DEPRESSION IS LIKE HAVING A POPCORN KERNEL LODGED in the back of your throat: it just sits there, irritating you, irritating your body. You can ignore it but, eventually, there it is again, scratchy and pissing you off. It’s not your fault it’s there and try as you might, you can’t seem to expel it. You forcefully cough, poke it with a toothbrush until you gag, make that weird hacking noise that makes everyone look at you funny: they don’t understand what you’re doing, and you could give them context but some of them still won’t get it. They’ll just shrug and say, “I don’t eat popcorn.” Other people might cast their eyes downward and nod knowingly, “Yep. I’ve been there.”
A school dropout from a poor family in southern India has revolutionised menstrual health for rural women in developing countries by inventing a simple machine they can use to make cheap sanitary pads.
—Muruganantham stands next to his invention in a still from the documentary Menstrual Man
—A school dropout from a poor family in southern India has revolutionised menstrual health for rural women in developing countries by inventing a simple machine they can use to make cheap sanitary pads.
These stairs once heard the patter of children’s feet and peals of laughter.
Now they slowly decay in silence. Photo by Matthias Haker. (ppcdn.500px.org)
bust of Neanderthal
—Many of the marks that evolutionary history has left on our bodies are invisible. Lactose tolerance, a predisposition towards diabetes, genes that contribute to breast cancer, and many other inconspicuous traits are legacies of the paths that our ancestors took as they left or stayed in Africa between 60 and 125 thousand years ago. However, other markers of these unique evolutionary histories are perfectly obvious, perhaps most notably skin color. It’s clear that people whose ancestors hail from different parts of the earth have differently colored skin and that this is related to how much of the sun’s radiation hits that part of the planet. The less radiation, the lighter the native population’s skin color tends to be. This is a great example of recent evolution in human populations. But what if we go back deeper in our evolutionary history, back to when all of humanity lived in Africa? At that time, all humans had darkly pigmented skin. A new study sheds light on how and why this skin pigmentation evolved.
—Where’s the evolution?
Humans have different skin colors because we have different amounts and kinds of the pigment melanin in our skin. Our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees, have pale skin without melanin underneath their dark fur, and almost certainly the ancestor that we share with chimps did too. So how did the early members of the human branch of the tree of life get from hair-covered light skin to hairless dark skin? Researchers have many competing hypotheses about what sort of natural selection caused dark skin to evolve. In all of these hypotheses, the notion of evolutionary fitness is important.
On my morning bus into town, every teenager and every grown-up sits there staring into their little infinity machine: a pocket-sized window onto more words than any of us could ever read, more music than we could ever listen to, more pictures of people getting naked than we could ever get off to. Until a few years ago, it was unthinkable, this cornucopia of information. Those of us who were already more or less adults when it arrived wonder at how different it must be to be young now. ‘How can any kid be bored when they have Google?’ I remember hearing someone ask.
“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
—Whether you are religious or non-religious, theist or atheist (yes those are different distinctions), it is hard to deny the value of the perpetual reminders that ancient tradition provides us. Every year for almost 2,000 years, 46 days before Easter, people in Christendom have observed the imposition of ashes on their foreheads as a reminder of their mortality.
—Even though we are surrounded by reminders of mortality, we don’t really pay heed to them. Perhaps, indeed, if we did, we would hardly be able to function. One of my daily rituals is to walk from my house to a cafe (it changes day to day which one it is) to sit and write. This morning I walked past a cat that lay lifeless on the side of the road, having likely been struck by a car the night before.
Blue Night, Edward Hopper
The vast majority of stars in our Milky Way galaxy host planets, many of which may be capable of supporting life as we know it, a new study suggests.
—Astronomers have detected eight new exoplanet candidates circling nearby red dwarf stars, which make up at least 75 percent of the galaxy’s 100 billion or so stars. Three of these worlds are just slightly bigger than Earth and orbit in the “habitable zone,” the range of distances from a parent star where liquid water could exist on a planet’s surface.
—The new finds imply that virtually all red dwarfs throughout the Milky Way have planets, and at least 25 percent of these stars in the sun’s own neighborhood host habitable-zone “super-Earths,” researchers said.
The pre-Columbian settlement at Cahokia was the largest city in North America north of Mexico, with as many as 20,000 people living there at its peak.
Credit: Painting by Lloyd K. Townsend. Courtesy of the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, Illinois.
—A sprawling city in the heartland of the United States was a cultural melting pot hundreds of years before Europeans ever set foot on North America.
—A study of dozens of teeth found at Cahokia , an ancient metropolis near modern-day St. Louis, shows that immigrants moved to the city from across the Midwest and perhaps as far away as the Great Lakes and Gulf Coast regions.
Poster artist and children’s book author/illustrator James McMullan has created dozens of well-known Lincoln Center posters and editorial illustrations, including a series in New York Magazine that inspired the film “Saturday Night Fever. This month, his first illustrated memoir will be published. Leaving China: An Artists Paints His World War II Childhood (Algonquin Young Readers) chronicles McMullan’s peripatetic existence before and after escaping with his mother from Japanese-occupied Cheefoo, China. Beautifully illustrated in his signature watercolor style, McMullan has written an unsentimental and compelling story tracing the saga of his missionary grandparents, family business, parents’ relationship, and father’s anti-Japanese intelligence work in the British army—all leading to McMullan becoming an artist.
Photographer: John Thomson Street Floods In Lambeth [Street Life in London]1877 Woodburytype
London School of Economics – Digital Library
Painted Hills is one of the three units that make up the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, located in Wheeler County, Oregon. The Painted Hills is so called for the colorful layers and banded striations that occur on its hills corresponding to various geological eras, formed when the area was an ancient river floodplain. The spectacular colors appear almost unnatural and hand-painted.
—The unique colors that streak the clay rich hills and mounds were formed over 35 million years ago by volcanic ash layers deposited by ancient eruptions when the area was a river plain. Over time, the layers of ash containing different minerals compacted and solidified into the various bands of colors seen today. The black soil is lignite that was vegetative matter that grew along the floodplain. The grey coloring is mudstone, siltstone, and shale. The red and orange hues are from laterite soil that formed by floodplain deposits when the area was warm and humid.
Al Capone’s cell block reconstructed at Eastern State. Elena Bouvier, 1998
—At work we notice a mummified cat. It rests in a pile of paint chips and splintered wood in the wreck of the prison warden’s quarters. The other tour guides and I venture across floorboards to marvel at it, a husk of skin rippling over tendons and ribs.
—We are here, and the cat is here, because more than 200 years ago, a group of Philadelphian reformers had a utopian vision of how prisons should be run. They designed a new penal system based on the principle of separate confinement: the isolation of prisoners from the outside world and from each other. In 1829 they opened Eastern State Penitentiary to put their ideas into practice. Nothing turned out the way they had intended, and today the prison survives in a state of ruin as a heritage site. Clues as to how the system unraveled are written into the structure itself, in the off-kilter rays of cellblocks, in shivs turned up in moldering cells, in tunnels dug by would-be escapees. The palimpsest is legible to those who care to read it. It tells a story of ideals chipped away over time, the death of a dream.
Of the various group masturbation parties 30-year-old nudist Kyle Rudd has attended over the years, the biggest one drew a dozen-odd men, predominantly over 50. He was the third to arrive that night, and when he walked inside, the host and another guy were already naked. As the remainder of the guests sauntered in, conversation centered on things like work, how the week had been, and the bodies and penises on display. Rudd did most of his masturbating—a blend of group and solo—from the vantage point of the organizer’s couch and managed to ejaculate on himself three or four times in six hours. In the breaks between these bouts of industry, Rudd, a Melbourne-based arts-sector employee, spent his time socializing, drinking beer, and eating pizza.
While some men might prefer to spend their weekends watching the game or relaxing with the family, Rudd says he had a great time.
New research suggests playing with the world-famous doll limits a girl’s view of what occupations are open to her.
—Supportive parents tell their daughters they can grow up to do just about anything. But this message of empowerment may be undercut by one of their girls’ favorite playthings: Barbie dolls.
—In a newly published study, four- to seven-year-old girls who briefly played with a Barbie picked a more limited set of potential career options than those who had played with a Mrs. Potato Head doll. Surprisingly, this effect occurred no matter if Barbie was dressed as a model or as a physician.
Following on from his amazing series last week, here are Halley Docherty’s latest collages for us – well known historical paintings of city scenes around the world, from Istanbul to Saint Petersburg and Tokyo to New York, superimposed on to Google Street View
Pre-Lenten celebrations around the globe, including Carnival and a rain soaked Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans, wrapped up yesterday before the marking of Ash Wednesday today. Historians say the tradition dates back to Roman times, when the newly converted Christians retained vestiges of their pagan festival, “Lupercalia,” as a period of celebration before the penance during the 40 days of Lent. –Lloyd Young (39 photos total)
Willem Hofhuizen… via.
Heinrich Himmler and his daughter Gudrun visiting a concentration camp with Nazi entourage, probably around 1941 (i.imgur.com)