Shared ramblings/ findings

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Magazine that Almost Changed the World

The Magazine that Almost Changed the World: "


When the book was handed to me, I didn’t know where to begin. Its two hundred oversized, glossy pages were filled with beautiful but impossibly foreign illustrations, men and women from a time and place I couldn’t really pinpoint. It cast a powerful spell: everyone who came to my house noticed the bright orange cover, picked up the book, and disappeared for twenty minutes or so. “Can I borrow this?” they’d ask me without looking up. When it came time for my own disappearing act, it was the first few sentences that pulled me in:

We first came across Molla Nasreddin several years ago on a cold winter day in a second-hand bookstore near Maiden Tower in Baku. It was bibliophilia at first sight. Its size and weight, not to mention print quality and bright colour, stood out suspiciously amongst the more meek and dusty variations of Soviet brown in old man Elman’s place. We stared at Molla Nasreddin and it, like an improbable beauty, winked back at us.

mollacover.jpgThe book is “Molla Nasreddin: The Magazine that Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve,” and its subject is the aforementioned Molla Nasreddin, a “satirical Azeri periodical” published in the first three decades of the last century in Azerbaijan and “read across the Muslim world from Morocco to Iran.” Nasreddin is a traditional character dating back to the Middle Ages in Central Asia, and he served as the magazine’s unifying figure. The book, which gathers some of the best images and guides the reader through their cultural nuances, is a project of the international artists’ collective Slavs and Tatars, who describe themselves as “a faction of polemics and intimacies devoted to an area east of the former Berlin Wall and west of the Great Wall of China known as Eurasia. The collective’s work spans several media, disciplines, and a broad spectrum of cultural registers (high and low) focusing on an oft-forgotten sphere of influence between Slavs, Caucasians, and Central Asians.”

Molla Nasreddin was revolutionary in many ways. In an era and a region where free speech wasn’t particularly encouraged, its authors boldly satirized politics, religion, colonialism, Westernization, and modernization, education (or lack thereof), and the oppression of women (Azerbaijan was surprisingly progressive on women’s issues at the time, granting women the right to vote in 1919—a year before the United States). And with the majority of the population at the time illiterate, the magazine was a careful and clever blend of illustrations and text. And the text itself might be the most interesting of all: it was written in Azeri Turkish, rather than Russian, the language of their colonizers. The book’s editors had the unenviable task of sorting out the text: the Azeri alphabet, written with Arabic characters for nearly a millennium, was Latinized by Lenin in 1928, Cyrillicized by Stalin a decade later, and returned to Latin following the fall of the Soviet Union.

Slavs and Tatars will be touring the world with the book and accompanying art installations for the rest of the year: Vienna now, Art Basel, in Switzerland, in June, Munich in August, Brazil in September, Minsk in October, and Stuttgart in 2012. You can look at a few sample images from the book below.

  • molla_daughter.jpgAccompanying the first image: “A son is born.” The second: “A daughter is born.”
  • molla_pagans.jpg“Listen, people who get a contemporary education want us to forget our old, pagan beliefs,” the caption reads. “Do not allow this to happen under any circumstances!”
  • molla_colonial.jpg“Eastern European and Asian deputies who don’t know this is a trap,” reads the caption. “The trap is labelled ‘the game in Eastern Europe and Asia.’”
  • molla_hitmom.jpg“Son, hit your mom and I will admire you.”
  • molla_austria.jpg“While the Russians, Ottomans and Serbians lounge in the background,” the editors write, “Austria tries to capture Albania but make it seem as if it fell on its own.” The caption reads: “Austria: ‘We need to be very careful shaking the tree so that the apple falls itself.’”
  • molla_work.jpg“A strongman stands in front of the oil workers and boasts: ‘No one is able to beat me and yet, no one hires me.’ The boss answers, in Russian, ‘It doesn’t matter, there isn’t any work anyhow.’”
  • molla_ottoman.jpg“A member of the Young Turks leads old clerks and members of the Ottoman Empire’s security apparatus away by a leash.” “Enough!” he tells them. “You’ve ruled us for 32 years.”
  • molla_muslims.jpg“It doesn’t hurt to always bear arms…as it is necessary for both praying and for fighting.” The editors note slyly: “Yet another position upon which fundamentalist Muslims and Evangelical Christians could get together and share best practices.”
  • molla_modernism.jpgThe captions for the left and right pages, respectively, are “According to the book, the world of the devil,” and “According to the book, the world of believers.” “With the bicycles, cars, bridges and buildings, the world of the devil is modern and developed,” the editors write. “The world of believers is full of ethereal illusions and idleness.”
  • molla_molla.jpg“Listen, son, go buy a copy of Molla Nasreddin but don’t tell anyone.” “In a show of bravado,” the editors write, “the illustration demonstrates that despite the religious establishment’s disapproval of Molla Nasreddin, the clerics still read it, if secretly.”
  • molla_iran.jpg“A biting critique of the role of clerics in the newly formed Iranian Majles (Parliament): the ‘Sina’ (literally: chest) refers to the self-flagellation of the Shi’ite Ashura-Tasua ceremonies.”
  • molla_censored.jpg“For reasons beyond our control, this page is empty.”

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

lalalala love

lalalala love: "
Want to see something beautiful?
The next time you see a bunch of people getting ready to take a group picture...

stand behind them.

That's where all the love is!

Sometimes you can tell how much people love each other without even seeing their faces.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Adorable Things My Puppy Has Said About The Current Revolutionary Fervor In The Middle East

Adorable Things My Puppy Has Said About The Current Revolutionary Fervor In The Middle East: "

I made this a while ago for a publication that ultimately decided not to publish it. So I am sharing it with you FOR FREE!

(Please give me money via the PayPal link on this site. I am sharpening pencils at a horror convention in New Jersey in a couple weeks; you should come. Thanks to Stephen and Marsha for loaning me their adorable doggy. Also, listen to your favorite song and have a great weekend. That’s all from this blog for now.)


The Most Inappropriate Dresses To Wear To Your Fancy Summer Things

The Most Inappropriate Dresses To Wear To Your Fancy Summer Things: "

To stand out, women who want to look fancy usually opt for sequins, but these are two sequined dresses that push the envelope in really uncomfortable way. Presenting, two handmade dresses from London-based The Rodnik Band. We don't know which one makes us feel more twisty inside—The Nude Dress with pubic hair that looks like a used coffee filter or The Urinal Dress that comes with a weird penile spigot that. Interested? These dresses will cost you around $2.5k, and are available here and here.

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

How to Play Angry Birds Online for free

Play Angry Birds Online, Right Now, for Free [Google]: "
Google isn't above killing a little productivity to prove the power of its web browser. The search engine king has released a special free browser-based version of Rovio's avian-flinging sensation Angry Birds on the Chrome Web Store, just to prove it can be done. More »


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Diablo 3 'external' beta coming Q3 2011

Diablo 3 'external' beta coming Q3 2011: "

Wrap your mind around that headline: Some time this year, specifically between July and September, someone that doesn't work for Blizzard is going to be putting some heavy time into Diablo 3 ... or at least that's the plan. Here's the full quote from Blizzard boss Mike Morhaime, speaking today during Activision's quarterly earnings call, for fear you won't believe it unless it's straight from the source:

'We began internal company-wide testing last week,' Morhaime confirmed. 'The game looks great, and we're currently targeting a Q3 launch for external beta testing.'

Though Morhaime says the team's working to get the game out before 2012, he stopped short of making any official release date announcement. Surprise.

JoystiqDiablo 3 'external' beta coming Q3 2011 originally appeared on Joystiq on Mon, 09 May 2011 17:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Google Music Beta to stream 20,000 songs for free, official! (updated)

Google Music Beta to stream 20,000 songs for free, official! (updated): "

It's not quite official but there's little doubt that Google will launch its Google Music service at its big I/O event later today. While the Wall Street Journal couldn't get a Google spokesman to admit it, Peter Kafka over at All Things D got Jamie Rosenberg, Director of Android Product Management, to spill the details a bit early. Google's service will essentially mimic the music locker functionality of Amazon's Cloud service, albeit without the ability to sell songs direct to consumers. Ouch. Unfortunately, Google's plans to launch a more feature-complete service were derailed when discussions with the labels broke down. According to Rosenberg, 'A couple of the major labels were less focused on the innovative vision that we put forward, and more interested in an unreasonable and unsustainable set of business terms.' So, rather than putting the service on hold, Google will launch its music service with the ability to store up to 20,000 of your own uploaded songs for free which you can then stream over the web to your desktop or Android phone or tablet -- any device that supports Flash (don't worry iOS users, your time will come). Amazon's service, by comparison, offers just 5GB of free storage for about 1,200 songs stored at a mediocre bitrate. Google will also best Amazon with a feature that automatically creates playlists. Google expects to roll out the service to its US users within 'weeks' with Music Beta invites going out later today to Verizon Xoom owners (others will be able to sign up at Keep it right here because we'll be bringing you the announcement live.

Update: And it's officially official, called 'Music Beta by Google' at this point. There's a simple presentation with artists, albums, and easy playlist creation. You can manually create them, or there's a feature called 'Instant Mix' that will make you a playlist based on any single song. It'll automagically pick 25 different tracks to build a 'truly ingenious mix.' You know, kind of like another, similarly intelligent service. All of this syncs to the cloud, which means no wires needed to download anything.

But, more importantly, songs can be cached locally. You can pick any song, album, or playlist to download onto storage, at an unknown quality. It's the same pinning idea that's in the new movies feature. That and more is demonstrated in the video below.

The service is launching in beta today, allowing 20,000 songs, and it'll be free -- 'at least while it's in beta.' Also, the updated music app is available now, which will work with any music on your phone and any phone running Android 2.2 or above. To get full-featured you can request a beta and get in line, but if you happen to be reading this from I/O you're in the beta. Congrats, you lucky bums!

Gallery: Google Music

Continue reading Google Music Beta to stream 20,000 songs for free, official! (updated)

Google Music Beta to stream 20,000 songs for free, official! (updated) originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 10 May 2011 12:25:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink Wall Street Journal  |  sourceAll Things D, Google Music Beta  | Email this | Comments"

Sitting Is Killing You [Infographic]

Sitting Is Killing You [Infographic]: "

You’ve probably had a sneaking suspicion all that sitting isn’t so great for you and it turns out you’re right. Sitting is killing you; check out this infographic for the scientific low down.

The health impact of sitting is a topic of hot discussion these days– The New York Times covered the topic last month–and for good reason. All along we’ve known that sitting all day isn’t great for you but emerging research indicates that it’s not just a poor alternative to spending your day hiking the Appalachian Trail, it actually alters our bodies and decreases our health and lifespan. Check out the full infographic above, courtesy of for more stats and information.

Sitting Is Killing You [MedicalBillingandCoding via Daily Infographic]

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