Notes for an Epilogue

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Lens Culture is featuring a brilliant photo essay by Tamas Deszo on the loss of traditional culture in Romania. Above is the flooded village of Geamana.

Spiritual tradition and physical heritage are simultaneously disintegrating in Romania.

Time and modernization are beginning to undermine centuries-old traditions preserved in tiny villages, in communities of only a few houses, as well as the bastions of the communist era’s enforced industrialization, which became part and parcel of Romania’s recent history.

Those living in the ‘reservations of forgetting’ blend with nature, exhibiting a humility inherited through generations. They are living out their last days in evident equality of closeness to nature. Helped by time’s decay, they are diligently pulling down the absurd edifices of the environment that was inflicted on them. In the manner of termites, they carry away small pieces of immense concrete constructions on the rickety carts of poverty.

Notes for an Epilogue   [Tomas Dezso]

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For Sale: Bank Vault Swimming Pool

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James Edition, “the world’s luxury marketplace” is selling an original Swiss bank vault packed full of Swiss 5-cent coins, for the Scrooge McDuck aficionados out there:

The bank safe swimming pool containing 8 Million real Swiss coins is currently located in Basel, Switzerland. This is the original bank safe from the former “Schweizer Volksbank” and known to be one of the finest Swiss piece of craftwork in the early 20th Century. It is in very good shape and still usable as a bank deposit safe. It will be removed from it’s original location and be replaced anywhere in the world. You’ll freely decide what happens with it.

Product Link   [James Edition]

40 Maps That Will Help You Understand the World

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Twister Sifter is carrying a great compilation of maps with some extra information on them. Several of them have been featured on this blog before, but not even close to all of them. I particularly like the map above, showing the most common surnames by country in Europe, and the one below, which shows where different writing systems are used around the world. For both, click to embiggen.

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40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World   [TwisterSifter]

Stasi Style

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Foreign Policy magazine is carrying a rather funny set of photographs gleaned from Stasi (East German secret police) records. They were originally intended as tools to aid agents in remaining inconspicuous in public while carrying out their duties:

A portly man wearing a cranberry-colored cardigan stands uncomfortably still, his hands clasped together over the paunch of his belly. Behind tinted sunglasses his downcast gaze is awkward, avoidant. But wait, there he is again … or is he? This man in the next frame — possibly, obviously the same man — in a long shaggy brown coat and Ushanka style faux-fur cap, is wearing the same sunglasses but now there’s a dark swipe of a mustache under his nose that wasn’t there before.

There are others just like him posing in self-conscious stance with impassive expressions — a tourist impossibly conspicuous in bright red pants, outfitted with not one but two cameras; a somber-faced woman in casual jeans and a forgettable black leather jacket is later “transformed” donning a lush winter coat, her hair tucked under a fur cap, gold earrings dangling. These men and women were trained to blend in; they were trained to infiltrate, observe, and inform. They were Stasi agents, part of the East German secret police.

Stasi Style!   [ForeignPolicy]

The 10 Most Controversial Wikipedia Entries

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A group of researchers from Oxford University has measured which articles on Wikipedia are the most controversial around the world. They based their measurement on the frequency with which authors undo each others changes compared to the total number of changes on an article. The list doesn’t really have any surprises…well, maybe one:

1. George W Bush
2. Anarchism
3. Muhammad
4. List of World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. employees
5. Global Warming
6. Circumcision
7. United States
8. Jesus
9. Race and intelligence
10. Christianity

The 10 Most Controversial Wikipedia Topics Around the World   [Gizmodo]

A-Z of Unusual Words

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Ireland-based graphic designers The Project Twins have created a great set of images illustrating 26 very unusual English words, one for each letter of the alphabet. Pictured above is cacodemonomania, or the pathological belief that one is inhabited by an evil spirit. Below is the German-looking zugzwang, which is a position in which any decision or move will result in problems.

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A-Z of Unusual Words   [The Project Twins]

George Saunders’s Advice to Graduates

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The New York Times is carrying a transcript of author George Saunders’s convocation address to the class of 2013 at Syracuse University. It’s a beautiful piece.

What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. 

George Saunders’s Advice to Graduates   [NYTimes]