Posts Tagged: atlas obscura

Gimme Gimme JSTOR

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The question of access continues to plague the academic community—if academia is truly about knowledge and discovery, why are there still so many barriers to the unfettered sharing of information? The architects of digital “pirate libraries” around the world are trying to resolve that contradiction, violating copyright laws to bring expensive scholarly materials to the researchers (and data-hungry laypeople) who need them.

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Reading Writing

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A delightful, short essay at Atlas Obscura describes how handwriting in colonial America was packed with information about the profession, or trade, and class of the penman/woman. Reading was considered spiritual, and taught separately from writing, which was highly self-conscious, revealing, and practical:

Thanks to the rigorous teachings of professionals called “penmen,” merchants wrote strong, loopy logbooks, women’s words were intricate and shaded, and upper-class men did whatever they felt like.

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Talking Heads

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Department store mannequins may be creepy, and automated customer service calls may take forever, but at least we don’t have to deal with the Euphonia these days. Inhabiting the lowest point of the uncanny valley, this machine mimicked human speech through a disembodied head, which somehow made people more uncomfortable than amazed:

People liked that the Euphonia could parrot human speech.

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This Week in Indie Bookstores

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The famed Parisian English-language bookstore Shakespeare and Company is set to open a cafe. The shop is partnering with New York restauranteur Marc Grossman, the man responsible for introducing juice cleansing to Paris.

The Alabama Booksmith sells only signed copies.

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Mapping Literary Road Trips

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What is more American than the road trip? Steven Melendez has created an astonishingly detailed interactive map of the beloved institution as documented in twelve works of American literature. The books featured include Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, Mark Twain’s Roughing It, John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, and Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Acid Test.

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Exorcisms, the Devil, and Helpful Grammar Tips

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The Codex Gigas…contains the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, as well as an assortment of other texts that tackle everything from practical instructions for exorcisms to seventh-century grammar tips written by Isidore, the scholar-turned saint of Seville.

Atlas Obscura examines the Codex Gigas, a strange tome weighing in at 165 pounds and better known as “the Devil’s Bible.”

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Learning to Work with Rare Books

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In 1983, Terry Belanger created a curriculum for librarians to learn how to deal with rare books at Columbia University. Nine years later, the University of Virginia hired him and the Rare Book School moved to Charlottesville. The school now has 80,000 rare volumes and runs highly competitive five-day session where students are taught the ins and outs of rare books.

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Good Work from the Museum of Bad Art

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Travel blog Atlas Obscura has a post up on Slate about Massachusetts’s Museum of Bad Art, whose collection of paintings “displays a glaring gap between the artist’s sincerity and skill level.”

It may seem cruel at first, but founders Scott Wilson and Jerry Reilly explain that “[t]heir goal, and the goal of the museum to this day, was to celebrate artists’ enthusiasm and honor failure as an essential part of the creative process.”

We fail to see what could possibly be bad about a painting titled Ferret in a Brothel.

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Notable New York, This Week 3/15 – 3/21

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This week in New York Keith Gessen and Elif Batuman talk, Guernica has a reading, Joanna Newsom sings and plays harp, Marcel Dzama appears, talks and signs books, The Moth has a Story Slam, Christopher Walken loses a hand and Zoe Kazan gives him one, and Atlas Obscura presents an international celebration of curious and obscure things.

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