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Posted by livius drusus

Archaeologists excavating the Fregerslev Viking grave south of Hørning near Skanderborg in Jutland, Denmark, have discovered a bundle of arrowheads at the bottom of the grave. The bundle appears to contain six heart-shaped iron arrowheads. There’s a layer of black organic material at the pointed end of the arrowheads that archaeologists believe to be the remnants of the quiver, long-since decayed.

These were probably not weapons of war. The were likely used for hunting deer and wild boar. It’s even more evidence of what an elevated position the Fregerslev Viking held in society. Only the elite would have had the opportunity and means to go hunting, so the bundle of arrows buried with him are symbols of high status.

Arrowheads are very rare discoveries in Viking rider graves. A whole quiver of them is practically unheard of and the Skanderborg Museum archaeologists are justifiably elated by the find. As with the other rich discoveries in the grave, the arrowheads were not fully excavated in situ. They were removed in a soil block earlier this week and taken to the museum laboratory to be X-rayed. The X-ray should show archaeologists how many arrows are in the bundle and give them a roadmap for excavation the block in the lab.

Reaching the bottom of the rider’s grave is an important milestone. It’s only 28 centimeters (11 inches) deep at the deepest point — it’s a miracle that it wasn’t destroyed by agricultural activity — but the sheer amount of corrosion from metals including gold, bronze and silver, visible on the surface of the trench indicates there are still an extraordinary number of expensive grave goods under there.

Experts are still in the process of X-raying the soil blocks that have already been removed. One lifted from the foot of the grave near the block that was already found to contain star-shaped bridle fittings contains even more fittings. The ones showing as bright white in the X-ray are silver or silver-plated. There are new types of hardware in the block that archaeologists believe to be decorative elements from a harness and/or stirrups. There is no sign of the stirrups themselves, however, which the team are keen to find. They hope excavation and X-rays of other soil blocks will find evidence of the stirrups.

The shiny things aren’t the only archaeological treasures in the grave. Archaeologists will be using the latest and greatest technology to analyze the soil for microscopic remains that will allow them to identify species of plants that were once inside the grave but have decayed along with the human and horse remains. They’re also going to look for DNA in the soil. German archaeologists have recently had a breakthrough in this cutting-edge technology, successfully isolating prehistoric DNA from the soil and clay of caves with nary a bone or tooth in sight.

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Posted by John Scalzi

Not just a parking lot, a parking structure. An auspicious way to finish up this tour’s series of Views from a Hotel Window.

I’m in Southfield, Michigan, at the Penguicon convention. Tomorrow I sign books, do my final reading of the tour, and participate on panels. If you’re in the area and have a hankering for a nifty science fiction convention, come on down (Bonus: Cory Doctorow, with whom I just did several really excellent tour stops, is the Guest of Honor).

And after Penguicon? Why, I go home! Finally! Yay!


AO3 Reaches 3 Million Fanworks!

Apr. 28th, 2017 10:09 am
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AO3 3 million fanworks

Partial screenshot of the AO3 homepage showing 3 million fanworks

The Archive of Our Own is thrilled to announce that it is now home to 3 million fanworks! This amazing accomplishment could not have happened without the support and engagement of you, our incredible users.

A bit of history about the Archive:

  • The idea for a fan-owned archive was first suggested in May 2007
  • The Archive of Our Own went into closed beta almost a year and a half later, in October 2008
  • A little over a year after that, in November 2009, AO3 entered open beta, where anyone could request an invitation and make an account
  • Before open beta, there were 347 user accounts and 6598 fanworks from 674 fandoms
  • Two days after open beta started, there were 1076 user accounts and 9506 fanworks from 886 fandoms
  • The millionth fanwork was posted to AO3 on February 15, 2014, just under four and a half years after going into open beta
  • The two millionth fanwork was posted to AO3 on December 20, 2015, less than two years after reaching one million fanworks

And now, less than a year and a half after reaching 2 million fanworks, we're celebrating 3 million! The past decade has been an incredible journey, and the AO3 has grown more than we ever could have hoped back when it first started.

Help Us Celebrate

It's the people who make the Archive of Our Own what it is. Our more than 1 million registered users--and countless unregistered users--are some of the most enthusiastic and passionate folks around, giving so much of themselves in the works, comments, and kudos that they share. So we want to hear your stories. What does AO3 mean to you?

You can share your answer in a word. You can share it in an essay. In a drawing. A song. However you want to celebrate your experience, we want to know about it. Leave a comment or use the hashtag #myAO3 on social media so we can hear what you have to say.

Three million thank yous to everyone who helped the Archive get to where it is today!

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Posted by Phil Plait

Saturn's north pole in color
5

Cassini took the first of nearly two dozen deep dives above the cloud tops of Saturn on April 26, 2017, and it took spectacular images of the storms raging on the ringed planet.

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Posted by livius drusus

Sheela-na-Gig, Kilpeck Church. Photo by Nessy-Pic.Ireland’s Heritage Council and Heritage Maps have launched a new dataset mapping all the Sheela-na-Gigs in situ and in collections around Ireland. Sheela-na-Gigs are female figures often characterized by bands across the forehead, visible ribs, and most notably, their hands spreading their vulvas wide open. They are found in the UK and to a lesser degree on the continent (mainly France and Spain), but Ireland has the greatest number of Sheela-na-Gigs. They are most commonly seen in churches and monasteries, usually ones of medieval Romanesque design or in newer ones that incorporate salvaged elements of earlier religious structures on the site. They are also found in lay buildings like castles.

Discussing the launch of this new cultural resource and the St. Patrick connection, renowned UCC folklorist Shane Lehane suggests “that perhaps the key to understanding the inherited notion that St Patrick had a wife, Sheela, is to explore the hugely interesting archaeological manifestation that also bears her name: the Sheela-na-Gig”.

Sheela-na-Gig, Cavan County Museum.“In Ireland, there are over 110 examples of these, oft misunderstood, medieval stone carvings of naked, old women exposing their genitalia. They are often positioned in medieval tower-houses, medieval church sites and holy wells. Up to recently these were seen as figures representing the evils of lust or as ways of averting the ‘evil eye’. More convincing reassessments have reinterpreted the Sheela-na-gig, in line with the Cailleach, as belonging to the realm of vernacular folk deities associated with the life-giving powers of birth and death. Placed with the cycles of both the natural and agricultural year and the human life cycle, she can be regarded as the embodiment of the cycle of fertility that overarches natural, agricultural and human procreation and death”.

Speaking about the launch of the Sheela-na-Gig map, Beatrice Kelly, Heritage Council Head of Policy & Research, stated, “Sheela-na-Gigs are very evocative symbols of the feminine in old Irish culture and their prominent positions in medieval churches and castles attests to the importance of the female in Irish society. As modern Ireland strives for equality in all aspects of life this map can help us all to understand the important place women have traditionally held within our culture and society.”

There are probably more Sheelas that haven’t been officially documented yet. The Heritage Council is hoping to add to the layer with new information and asks that members of the public contact them if they know of any Sheela-na-Gigs that are not yet marked on the map.

As the name suggests, Heritage Maps is a collection of culture-related data sets marked on a map of Ireland. You can select different layers to view on the map — shipwrecks, UNESCO World Heritage sites, burial grounds, walled towns, museums, protected architectural sites, and hundreds more — and create the mother of all heritage tours customized to your interests. There are more than 150,000 sites pinpointed in all of the layers, and the number increases all the time.

To view the new Sheela-na-Gig dataset, click on the Archaeology category in the Layer List and check the Sheela-na-Gig box. You’ll see the map populate with data points. Click on one of the points and then on the right arrow after the name for the full information to drop down, including a photo (just thumbnails, alas).

 

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Posted by Phil Plait

Opportunity landing site seen from orbit
5

On January 25, 2004, the rover Opportunity landed on Mars. Now, its landing site has been spotted from orbit ... and it made a hole in one!

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Posted by livius drusus

Statue of Massasoit Ousamequin in Plymouth, Massachusetts, erected in 1921.Artifacts and remains of the Wampanoag leader who forged the first alliance with the Pilgrims are being reburied in his original grave after a two-decade search for the scattered relics.

The Pilgrims called him Massasoit as if it were his first name and it has stuck, but in fact it’s a hereditary title meaning “Great Leader.” His name was Ousamequin. As Great Leader of the Pokanoket Wampanoags, he held the allegiance of numerous chieftains and villages in the Wampanoag Confederation stretching from Narragansett Bay east to Cape Cod, most of modern-day southeastern Massachusetts.

In the six years before the Mayflower landed at Plymouth, two smallpox outbreaks had decimated the Pokanoket, reducing their warrior ranks from a formidable 3,000 to a mere 300. With their enemies the Narragansetts at their doorstep (they controlled the territory west of Narragansett Bay), ready to take advantage of the Pokanoket’s military weakness, in March of 1621 Ousamequin entered into a treaty of nonaggression and mutual defense with the newly arrived English colonists. They agreed not to attack each other and to come to each other’s aid if either one were attacked by third parties.

Massasoit Ousamequin smoking a peace pipe with Governor John Carver when the alliance was made in 1621.The English had weapons and the ability to use them; the Pokanoket knew how to grow, make and find food. The military alliance was advantageous to both, since the Narragansetts were as ill-disposed towards the English as they were toward the Pokanoket, and good relations with their indigenous neighbors were essential to the survival of the colony. Without them, the Plymouth colony would quickly go the way of their countrymen at Jamestown and starve to death. As it was, they only had a place to live because they had moved into a Pokanoket village (Patuxet) left abandoned after a smallpox epidemic, and although Ousamequin didn’t know this, at the time of the alliance barely three months after their arrival, almost half of the colonists and Mayflower crew had already died from diseases contracted during the Atlantic crossing.

The alliance lasted 40 years, ending only with Massasoit Ousamequin’s death in 1661. English sources acknowledge that the colony would almost certainly have died on the vine in those difficult first few years without his invaluable aid and recognized him as a man of unimpeachable integrity, loyalty and generosity. That didn’t stop the growing colony from encroaching ever more on Pokanoket lands, of course, and as the decades passed, the alliance became increasingly strained. Under pressure from all sides, Ousamequin chose to keep the alliance together and repeatedly sold the colonists ever-larger sections of Pokanoket territory. In 1653, he and his eldest son Wamsutta sold land known as Sowams which included most of the present-day towns of Warren and Barrington, Rhode Island, and Somerset, Massachusetts, for 35 pounds sterling. The buyers were a who’s who of early New England history: Miles Standish, Josiah Winslow, William Bradford, John Winslow, et al.

Marker noting supposed location of Massasoit Spring in Warren, Rhode Island. Photo by Christopher Hightower.One small piece of Sowams was not part of the sale: the “neck,” meaning the uplands overlooking the bay. Called Montaup, anglicized as Mount Hope, this was Ousamequin’s hometown and was to be reserved for the Pokanoket until such time as they chose to leave. After his death, he was buried there. By the end of King Philip’s War (King Philip was the English name of Massasoit Metacom, Ousamequin’s second son, who took up arms against the Plymouth Colony in 1675 to stop their untrammeled expansionism) in 1678, the surviving Pokanoket fled to Maine and Mount Hope Neck was absorbed into Warren, Rhode Island.

Massasoit Ousamequin's knife, recovered artifact to be reburied. Photo courtesy the  Wampanoag Confederation.Neglected and unprotected, Massasoit Ousamequin’s grave was destroyed during construction of the Providence, Warren and Bristol Railroad, which opened in Warren on July 4th, 1851, 190 years after Massasoit’s death. His wasn’t the only grave on the hilltop, and souvenir hunters and archaeologists (who at this time were also largely souvenir hunters) dug up the site, collecting artifacts and human remains which wound up dispersed throughout personal collections and museums.

In 1990, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act made it federal law that grave goods and human remains held in collections, institutions of learning and museums be returned to related tribes for reburial according to their religious traditions.

Massasoit Ousamequin's beads, artifact to be reburied. Photo courtesy the Wampanoag Confederation.Members of the Wampanoag Nation have spent 20 years tracking down the remains and artifacts of Massasoit Ousamequin. It was their “spiritual and cultural obligation,” said Ramona Peters, who coordinated the effort. [...]

Ousamequin’s artifacts include a pipe, knife, beads and arrowheads.

The Rhode Island Historical Society has repatriated about 75 items to the appropriate tribes since the law’s passage, including artifacts belong [sic] to Ousamequin. They were donated as relics in the 1800s, but collections aren’t assembled in that way today, said Kirsten Hammerstrom, director of collections.

“Grave goods are not something we dig up and accept. They belong to the tribe,” she said. [...]

The Wampanoags have collected hundreds of funerary objects that were removed from the burial ground on the hill and held dozens of burials for their ancestors whose graves were disturbed, Peters said.

“It is an honor and a privilege to be able to do this for our ancestors,” she said.

Now it’s Massasoit Ousamequin’s turn.

Massasoit Ousamequin's pipe, one of the recovered artifacts to be reburied. Photo courtesy the  Wampanoag Confederation.

 

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OTW April 2017 Membership Drive

Thank you for supporting the OTW! Our April 2017 drive has come to a close, and we have raised over US$145,000 from over 5,600 individual donations representing 72 countries. Over 3,040 of these donations came from first-time donors.

This week, we updated you on exciting developments in several OTW projects. We also told you about additional ways you can donate: corporate matching to amplify your impact, and recurring donations to get that amazing thank you gift you'll love!

We would like to recognize all the OTW volunteers working behind the scenes to make this drive, and everything we do, possible. This drive couldn't have been successful without them, or without you. Once again, thank you for your generosity and support as we continue to grow as an organization.

(Although the drive has ended, your donations are accepted at any time.)

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We've sped up work posting, fixed an emergency issue with History and Marked for Later, and made about 30 other bug fixes and improvements. Oh, and the first step of our Rails update is done!

Credits

  • Coders: Ariana, Cesy, cosette, cyrilcee, David Stump (Littlelines), dense lancer, james_, Matt Sears (Littlelines), Meepu, redsummernight, Sarken, Scott, Wendy Randquist (Littlelines), ticking instant
  • Code reviewers: Ariana, james_, Naomi, redsummernight, Sarken, Scott, ticking instant
  • Testers: Alison Watson, james_, Lady Oscar, mumble, redsummernight, Runt, Sammie Louise, Sarken

Special thanks to dense lancer and Meepu, who have contributed their first pull requests as AD&T volunteers and completed their training!

Details

Miscellaneous Backend Changes

  • [AO3-4858] - To speed up work posting, we've implemented an improved version of the count caching described in Issues With Posting Works (And What We're Doing to Solve Them).
  • [AO3-4950] - On March 31, the database table where we store History and Marked for Later information ran out of rows. This meant users were no longer able to mark works for later and any works they accessed were not added to their History. We've now migrated the table to use BIGINT for its primary key, which will let us add a lot more to the table. (It took just under six hours of downtime to update all the existing data in this table.)
  • [AO3-4814] - If you tried to use the Edit Series page to add a co-creator to a series, the page would say the series had been updated even though the co-creator wasn't added. We've fixed it so the co-creator is actually added now.
  • [AO3-4966] & [AO3-4967] - While we were upgrading to strong parameters, we created some new co-authoring bugs related to pseuds. Luckily, our testers found the bugs before they ever made it onto the live Archive, so we got them all fixed before anyone had a problem. Hooray for the Quality Assurance & Testing team!
  • [AO3-4884] - We've changed the way the invitation emails are coded so our Translation team will be able to translate the text.
  • [AO3-4875] - If one of your works was imported from an archive, and you claimed it using your AO3 account with a different email address, subsequent imports from other archives would not have your name on them and would instead list the archivist as the creator. We've told it to stop doing that -- works will now automatically be transferred to the account you previously used to claim.
  • [AO3-4548] - The Docs team wasn't able to reorder existing FAQ questions, which made it a pain to add new questions to the middle of an FAQ section. We've given them that ability and improved the way translated FAQs work, so English language questions that haven't been translated yet will no longer appear in the middle of translated sections.
  • [AO3-4957] - When we updated one of our gems, it installed another dependent gem that caused 502 errors when posting a work, comment, or anything else with a < character directly before a line break. We've downgraded the dependent gem and you should once again be able to >.<
  • [AO3-4979] - Due to a caching issue, saved versions of pages could potentially be served to users who weren't supposed to see them. We've made the cache stop doing that.

Miscellaneous Frontend Changes

  • [AO3-4617] - Entering incorrect login information resulted in an error message that said in part, "Please try again or follow the 'Forgot password?' link below." We've updated the error message to be a little more direct and just give people the link to reset their password.
  • [AO3-4938] - The OTW recently got a new mailing address, so we've updated the address provided on our DMCA Policy page.
  • [AO3-4964] - We've updated our Diversity Statement to remove a reference to the location of our servers.
  • [AO3-4493] - If you subscribed to a work or series with a very long title, the unsubscribe button on your Subscriptions page would sometimes run right off the side of the screen. We've made it so the text will wrap across lines instead of stretching horizontally.
  • [AO3-4451] - Our error pages were using some very old stylesheets, which meant they weren't displaying correctly on all screen sizes. Now they should look better on smaller screens, like phones and tablets.

Tags and Tag Sets

  • [AO3-4951] - The automated task that deletes unused tags didn't get updated when we implemented the tag count caching, so it hasn't been running. We've updated it and now it's cleaning up tags once again!
  • [AO3-4954] - Whenever a tag wrangler tried to return a tag to the unsorted tag bin, the Archive would throw a fit 500 error. Now the tag will be properly returned to the unsorted bin.
  • [AO3-4931] - There were lots of processes trying to update tag nomination, which we believe was because we were not finding tag nominations using an indexed field. We've started indexing tag nominations by tag name, which we think will help improve performance.
  • [AO3-4890] - If you tried to visit the URL for a tag set that didn't exist, you'd get a blue error message that said, "What Tag Set did you want to look at?" We've made it red, like a proper error message should be.
  • [AO3-4872] - We had several lines of tag set nomination code that would cause a 500 error when they were used for non-existent things. We've fixed it so they won't show up in our error logs and will instead give nicer error messages like, "What nominations did you want to work with?"
  • [AO3-1744] - If a tag wrangler tried to wrangle a tag to a non-canonical fandom, the fandom information would disappear and the Archive would lie and tell them the tag had been successfully updated. Now it correctly tells wranglers the update wasn't saved because the fandom needs to be canonical.

Automated Tests

  • [AO3-4853] - We improved the cache-busting on our comments to help ensure our tests for comment editing pass more reliably.
  • [AO3-4940] - There was a mistake in our tag set tests, so we've corrected it.
  • [AO3-4927] - We've added more test coverage for the locales controller.
  • [AO3-4878] - We increased the test coverage for the collection items controller.
  • [AO3-4921] - The challenge assignments controller now has 86% test coverage instead of 79%.
  • [AO3-4926] & [AO3-4685] - The inbox and invite request controllers now have 100% test coverage, yay!
  • [AO3-4939] - We had some tests related to comment timestamps that would fail whenever we had the bad luck of running them just before the clock ticked over from one minute to the next, e.g. if we ran the test at 22:00:58 instead of 22:00:02. We've added a gem that lets us set the time down to the second, so now we can make sure the test has a full minute to run.
  • [AO3-4968] - The 90s are long over, so we got rid of some of our cassettes and replaced them with stubbed HTTP requests.
  • [AO3-4969] - We removed a whole bunch of unused and outdated files that were necessary for a type of testing we no longer use.
  • [AO3-4702] - A long time (seven years!) ago, we drafted some feature tests for the various autocomplete fields on the Archive, but we couldn't use them because our Cucumber tests didn't work with JavaScript. Now that we can run tests with JavaScript, we finished up those autocomplete tests.
  • [AO3-4983] - We've started using multiple Redis servers in one of our testing environments so we can spot any problems when we start doing some work on Redis.

Rails Update

A whole bunch of our controllers (and a few models!) have been hitting the gym together to make sure they have strong parameters before we begin the next phase of our Rails upgrade:

Almost all of these strong parameters issues were coded by contractors. Thank you so much to the OTW donors who made it possible!

Known Issues

See our Known Issues page for current issues.

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Posted by John Scalzi

Behold, the penultimate hotel window view for this tour! It’s also the view from the highest floor (I think). Hello, San Francisco.

Tonight! If you’re in Santa Cruz, come see Cory and me at the Santa Cruz High Theater at 7, sponsored by Bookshop Santa Cruz. It’ll be my first time in Santa Cruz ever. I’m very excited.

Tomorrow! Borderlands Books here in San Francisco! That’ll be at 6. Come see us there if you’re in the Bay Area.

It’s coming to a close, this tour. It’s been great so far, but I’ll be happy to be home soon.


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Posted by PeaceBang

Hair is important.
Fashion is important.
Style is important.
They are all about culture and identity. I study them for that reason.
So if you’re going to be rolling your eyes and saying in all your holier-than-me-ness, “AW MAH GAD this petty woman thinks this issue MATTERS,” you should go do something you consider meaningful right now because I’m going to be amplifying the voices of black women talking about a hair product line right now (here’s an overview of the issue from Newsweek).

Sherronda J. Brown of Roaring Gold has a lot to say about the Shea Moisture brouhaha that got them a good internet dragging this week.

Feminista Jones talks for a good long time here on Periscope about the issue. Miss Jones is fierce. She uses the swear words. Get over it. Listen to her. It doesn’t matter if you agree with everything she says (I don’t, but who cares?). No one cares if we “agree” or not. It’s time to listen, learn and respect.

Let’s not over-analyze the white woman in the commercial saying that she feels like she could “conquer the world” because she’s having a good hair day, because we all have things to do. Let’s take seriously the anger and pushback from Black women about this, read, listen and learn.

This is not time for #AllHairMatters. This is not (another) time for white people to feel like we’re entitled to raise arguments that negate or erase Black women’s experience. Just imagine Angelica Schuyler singing to Alexander, “I’m not hee-eere for you” and you see where I’m coming from.

Man, I have been singing that phrase constantly for weeks as I watch white people take up so much damn space. More on that over at PeaceBang.com, ’cause my denomination is in a meltdown! A good one, in my opinion.

But for now, hair.
It is a serious subject. If you don’t think so, let me guess, you’re white. You have never had to question for a moment where to find the shampoos and styling products in the store, because you’re “the norm.” You have never had your hair politicized. Your hair worries were always about personal insecurity and not about being regarded as a lesser human being in society that originally put people who looked like you on a goddamned auction block and sold you to the highest bidder.

LISTEN and LEARN.

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Posted by Phil Plait

WHAM all-sky survey
0

A new all-sky survey shows the location of warm hydrogen gas in the galaxy. And it's everywhere!

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Posted by livius drusus

Mural reappears behind piles of brick from demolished wall. Photo courtesy the Coventry Telegraph.A monumental mural painted by Jewish artist Hans Feibusch in St Mark’s Church in Coventry has been revealed after spending 44 years hidden behind a brick wall. It’s been hidden more than four times longer than it was in view, but now it’s out in the open for good.

A Victorian Gothic Revival church built in 1868, St Mark’s managed to survive the levelling of the Medieval city of Coventry by German bombing raids in World War II. The great stained glass window in the west wall was the only casualty. The church couldn’t afford to replace the window in the lean war and post-war years, so they bricked up the hole and the church was left with a very large, very plain wall where the window had once been.

Hans Feibusch paints "Ascension" at St Mark's Church, April 2nd, 1963. Photo courtesy the Coventry Telegraph.In 1963, Hans Feibusch was commissioned to paint a mural depicting the Ascension of Christ on that plain wall. Born in Frankfurt in 1898, Feibusch served two years on the Eastern Front during World War I. After the war, he studied art and began working as a professional artist in 1925. He was quickly successful, winning an award from the Prussian Academy of Arts in 1931. When the Nazis came to power in 1933, Feibusch saw the writing on the wall and hightailed it out of Germany to England.

Hitler visits the blockbuster Degenerate Art exhibition in 1937.While he built a new life for himself in England, back in Germany Hitler’s personal taste in art was being enshrined as the ideal while the avant-garde that had thrived under the Weimar Republic was reviled as “degenerate,” the nobility of classical forms distorted and deformed by Jewish contamination of the culture. In 1937, Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels put together a Degenerate Art (Entartete Kunst) exhibition in Munich that collected the modern art his ministry had pulled from the walls of galleries, museums and private collections. Feibusch’s work was displayed alongside Jankel Adler’s and Marc Chagall’s next to the slogan “Revelation of the Jewish racial soul” written on the wall.

Detail illustrating man's brutality to man in the bottom right of the "Ascension" mural. Photo courtesy the Coventry Telegraph.Feibusch’s career really took off in England after the end of World War II, thanks largely to the destruction wrought by German bombs. He became known as a muralist, especially as a church muralist. His main patron was the Bishop of Chichester Dr. G.K.A. Bell, who commissioned murals in Chichester Cathedral and in the bishop’s palace. Churches in Brighton, Portsmouth, Eastbourne and other cities small and large also commissioned murals from Feibusch. He ultimately painted murals for 30 churches, including St Mark’s, and major civic buildings like Dudley Town Hall in Worcestershire.

St Mark’s Church was deconsecrated in 1973 and converted into the outpatients department of the Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital. For the mural’s own protection (and maybe to make the space a little less obviously a church), the Ascension was bricked over. Even though out of view, it wasn’t forgotten.

Feibusch's mural revealed. Photo courtesy the Coventry Telegraph.The Coventry Society said: “Feibusch’s work is now recognised as being of national importance. In 2011 the Coventry Society noted that the listing particulars for the building did not include the mural. We therefore put in a formal request to English Heritage to amend the listing to include the mural and revise other details of the listing. This was approved by the Secretary of State for Culture, Leisure and Sport in January 2013.”

“In March 2017 it was announced that the building is to be re-opened as a City Centre Resource Church in September 2017. We are delighted to learn that the future of the building is now safe and that it is going to be restored.”

Hans Feibusch lived a very long life, dying four weeks shy of his 100th birthday in 1998. He not only outlived all of the Nazis who labelled his art degenerate, but also all of his fellow so-called “degenerate artists.” He is buried in Golders Green Jewish Cemetery.

 

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Luke 24:13-35

Apr. 26th, 2017 04:51 am
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Posted by James Wetzstein

Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

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Posted by Abigail Nussbaum

The superhero genre has been the dominant mode of our pop culture for at least ten years.  Which has turned out to be a bit of a problem, since, even by the relatively modest standards of blockbuster entertainment, superheroes do not lend themselves to particularly deep or thought-provoking ideas.  This is, after all, a genre that is still furiously debating the oh-so-provocative question, "

The Big Idea: Maurice Broaddus

Apr. 25th, 2017 02:45 pm
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Posted by John Scalzi

April has been light on Big Idea posts because I’m on tour (don’t worry, May’s gonna be packed), but let’s make sure we don’t get through this last week of the month without a fine piece of work for you to consider. Today: Maurice Broaddus brings you all the details on his new novella Buffal0 Soldier, including who the work is a love letter for.

MAURICE BROADDUS:

My novella, Buffalo Soldier–in fact the entire saga of its hero, Desmond Coke–is essentially one long love letter to my mother.

Growing up, my mother would take any opportunity to regale us with stories from her homeland of Jamaica. ANY opportunity: during family meals, before bedtime, Saturday mornings, during our favorite television shows (not hers though: she had what could only be described as an unhealthy fascination with the show, Hee Haw). She spun all manner of duppy (ghost) stories, even a long running tale of the duppy that haunted our family (which, as it turned out, was the spirit of her grandmother looking out for us).

For some reason she still found it surprising that I grew up to be a writer.

One of the genres I fell in love with was steampunk. Yet many times whenever I read steampunk stories, with their Victorian ethos and imperialist bent, I usually ended up wondering where the black folks were. All of my steamfunk stories (a term for steampunk stories seen through an Afrocentric lens), beginning with “Pimp My Airship,” all take place in the same universe, one where America lost the Revolutionary War and remained a colony of Albion. And my stories follow what some of the black folks might be up to.

My mother has since retired to Jamaica. During one of her visits here, she began telling me about her trip to a part of the island, governed by the Maroon people, only open once a year to outsiders. The British weren’t able to conquer them, so they had agreed allow the Maroon to have a separate government, and the British would colonize the rest of the island. I grew fascinated with the idea of a Maroon-run Jamaica and started playing with the alt-history repercussions of them totally keeping the British out of Jamaica. Leaving the island in control of its resources, its culture, its wealth, and its technology.

Of course Jamaica would become a superpower. Because, well, that’s what my mom would want.

In this Jamaica, undercover agent, Desmond Coke, gets drawn into a web of political intrigue when he stumbles across a young boy, Lij Tafari. As it turns out, Lij is a clone of Haile Selassie, a messiah figure to the Rastafarians, who the government plans to raise as their puppet to control the people. Desmond frees the boy and goes on the run. This is where the story of Buffalo Soldier begins.

In Buffalo Soldier, Desmond Coke and Lij are chased through the nation state of Tejas and into the First Nations territory. As they hide from Jamaican intelligence, they are pursued by business and political interests. As they search for a place to call home, Desmond tells Lij stories. The heart of the novella is about the power of story and how it helps us create a sense of home wherever we go.

Plus shoot outs, giant robots, assassins, and sword fights because that’s what else my mom would want.

Well … probably.

—-

Buffalo Soldier: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read an excerpt. Visit the author’s site. Follow him on Twitter.


Marching for science

Apr. 25th, 2017 12:45 pm
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Posted by Phil Plait

Silicon Valley March for Science
39

On April 22, 2017, hundreds of thousands of people all over the world marched in support of science. They did this because science is under unprecendented attack at the time we need it most.

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Posted by livius drusus

Florence Nightingale standing with owl, Athena. Lithograph by F. Holl after a sketch by Florence's sister Parthenope. Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images.Florence Nightingale wasn’t even 18 years old when she first realized the expected life of an elegant young woman of her milieu — husband, children, charitable causes — was not for her. One of two much-loved daughters of wealthy, upper class parents, Florence grew up at Embley Park in Hampshire, spending the summers in the manor house of Lea Hurst on her father’s estate in Derbyshire. Her parents had progressive views of women’s education, and both Nightingale daughters received a thorough classical education from their Cambridge-graduate father William. On February 7th, 1837, at Embley, Florence felt “God called her to His service.”

Embley Park, Hampshire. Drawing by Parthenope Nightingale. Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome ImagesWhat form this service would take she wouldn’t know for some years, but at least by 1844, nursing was on her mind. American poet and author of The Battle Hymn of the Republic Julia Ward Howe recalled that while she and her husband Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe were visiting the Nightingales at Embley that year, Florence asked Dr. Howe, “If I should determine to study nursing, and to devote my life to that profession, do you think it would be a dreadful thing?” He replied that it would be a good thing, a response that buoyed her hopes.

She began to plan in secret to pursue her vocation. The plan was to learn the job by working as a nurse at Salisbury Hospital for a few months and then come home and display her newly acquired skills to such great advantage caring for the sick and destitute in the local village of West Wellow that any doubts her family might harbor would be instantly dispelled.

She didn’t even make it to the first step. Her mother was so horrified by the idea of Florence working as a nurse in a hospital that the plan was stillborn. It wasn’t the gross aspects of the job that so terrified Mrs. Nightingale. Disease, exposed body parts, gruesome operations, rivers of blood paled in comparison to the sexual shenanigans doctors and nurses were reputed to indulge in on hospital wards. Nurses were widely seen as little more than doctors’ paid mistresses.

Portrait of Elizabeth Blackwell from "Biographie des sages femmes celebres," by Alois Delacoux. 1834. Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images.To her parents’ credit, they both looked into the idea, contacting their many friends in the medical profession to ask their opinions. William Nightingale even argued Florence’s case in correspondence with a doctor friend, but the responses were uniformly negative. Nursing was no job for a moral, religiously devout, rich, attractive, highly educated and marriageable gentlewoman. Even pioneering female physician Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell told Florence that a young lady she knew decided the only way for her to be taken seriously as a nurse without being assumed to be some doctor’s side-piece was to dress in pantaloons, cut her hair short and hope her deep voice kept the wolves at bay. A head nurse in a London hospital told Florence “she had never known a nurse who was not drunken, and that there was immoral conduct practised in the very wards, of which she gave me some awful examples.”

Florence was passionately opposed to the life expected of her. She felt her calling to the marrow of her being. She wanted to be a “savior” in God’s name, for her existence to have a profound purpose. The Nightingales hoped some travel might distract their determined daughter, maybe even inspire her to follow her many intellectual pursuits instead of nursing. In 1847, Florence was sent to Rome with some friends of the family. She loved it, but as soon as she returned to London in 1849, she found work inspecting hospitals and working at schools for poor children.

Faience amulet acquired by Florence Nightingale in Egypt. National Museums Liverpool.And so the prospect of more foreign travel was dangled before her. This time her father was sending her, again with friends of the family, to Egypt and Greece. Again she loved it. On her trip to Egypt in 1850, she picked up several easily transported figurines as souvenirs. They were not fancy things, and as a group she had a rather low opinion of them, but there were some she really liked. She wrote to her sister Parthenope:

As for the Egyptian rubbish, you may do just what you like with it, keep it or give it away. There is nothing that reminds me of what I have seen, nothing that savours of my Karnak except the bronze dog, the brick seals which sealed the tombs at Thebes, and the four little seals in the light box … you don’t know how difficult it is to get anything at Cairo – for I know you will think, and very truly, what I have sent home very shabby.

Faience figurine acquired by Florence Nightingale in Egypt, 1850. National Museums Liverpool.Parthenope kept them, and they remained in the family for almost a century. The last owner was Rosalind Nash, daughter of Florence’s cousin and her close friend and confidante. In 1949, she donated the group to what is now the National Museums Liverpool. On April 28th, they will go on display for the first time in Liverpool World Museum’s new Egyptian gallery, home to the second largest collection of Egyptian antiquities in the UK (the British Museum has the largest).

Ashley Cooke, the senior curator of antiquities at the World Museum, is delighted to display her amulets at last. They included four to the protective goddess Taweret, particularly cherished by women during childbirth.

Shabti of Pa-di-Neith acquired by Florence Nightingale in Eygpt, 1850. National Museums Liverpool.“What she brought back is fascinating to us, but I think she expected to be offered ancient treasures and she was very disappointed with what was available,” he said. “Ironically we are displaying some of the objects which she did rate and was very pleased at getting hold of – which have turned out, alas, to be fakes.” [...]

In a later letter she mentioned the most precious of her seals again: “I possess an antiquity though which I really do value, an official seal, of the time of Rameses the Great, my hero, with his cartouche upon it. An undoubted reality. Who will dare to open letters sealed with the great Rameses’ own seal?”

Cooke said kindly: “Unfortunately the four little seals are all forgeries but at least they gave her some pleasure and they are quite pretty little things.”

Florence Nightingale tending to wounded soldiers during the Crimean War. National Library of MedicineNot even all the wonders, fake or real, of Egypt could keep Florence from achieving her goal. Five years after her trip to Egypt, Florence Nightingale went to tend to the wounded of the Crimean War, and the rest, as they say, is history. Her role in the war may have been overstated in hindsight, but her struggle against societal disapproval to even get a chance at nursing played an essential role in her many great accomplishments after her experience in the Crimea. She built nursing into a profession with standards of care and commitment, founded the first secular nursing school and advocated tirelessly for improving healthcare for people of all social strata.

 

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