The Stinking Middle Ages


Is our reaction to bad odor learned?

I once​ asked the great historian Richard Southern whether he would like to have met any of the medieval saints and churchmen about whom he wrote so eloquently. He gave a cautious reply: ‘I think they probably had very bad breath.’ He may have been right about that, but it would be wrong to infer that this was something which didn’t bother them. The men and women of the Middle Ages may have had a greater aversion to unpleasant body odours than their descendants do now. If so, this was bad luck, for they were much more likely to encounter them than we are in our deodorised world

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Micah Mattix — The American Conservative

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Why do we feel so guilty all the time?


Do you feel guilty when you are happy?

Liberal guilt has become a shorthand for describing those who feel keenly a lack of social, political and economic justice, but are not the ones who suffer the brunt of it. According to the cultural critic Julie Ellison, it first took hold in the US in the 1990s, on the back of a post-cold-war fragmentation of the left, and a loss of faith in the utopian politics of collective action that had characterised an earlier generation of radicals. The liberal who feels guilty has given up on the collective and recognises herself to be acting out of self-interest. Her guilt is thus a sign of the gap between what she feels for the other’s suffering and what she will do actively to alleviate it – which is not, it turns out, a great deal.

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Devorah Baum — The Guardian

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Why Indians are turning to nostalgic TV?


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According to psychologist, psychotherapist and hypnotherapist Dr Jonathan Pointer, the appeal in returning to treasured TV, films, music, books, video games, sporting moments, and even food, lies in the connection between emotion and memory. “Emotions and memories are linked; emotions reactivate memories, and memories reactivate emotions. So nostalgic reminiscence, when we create an emotional response through reminiscing on past events, is an easy way to re-experience an emotion attached to a particular memory. This can be aided by retrieval cues, such as smells, sights, sounds, from our past,” he says.

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Rahul Verma — BBC

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How the Trampoline Came to Be


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That connection, along with Nissen’s ceaseless promotional activities, propelled trampolining into the American consciousness during the post-war years and throughout the space era. Nissen jumped at the chance to awaken the world to its exercise benefits, which include cardio, strength, balance and range of motion, and he came up with plenty of photo ops for his invention, including jumping on one on the flattened top of a pyramid in Egypt and bouncing with a kangaroo in Central Park.

“The kangaroo was nasty,” Dian says. “It kept trying to kick my father. He would get close to it for the photos but then jump away quickly so he wouldn’t get hurt.”

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David Kindy — Smithsonian

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Asimov’s Empire, Asimov’s Wall


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After the war, his reputation as a groper became a running joke among science fiction fans. The writer and editor Judith Merril recalled that Asimov was known in the 1940s as “the man with a hundred hands,” and that he “apparently felt obliged to leer, ogle, pat, and proposition as an act of sociability.” Asimov, in turn, described Merril as “the kind of girl who, when her rear end was patted by a man, patted the rear end of the patter,” although she remembered the episode rather differently: “The third or fourth time his hand patted my rear end, I reached out to clutch his crotch.”

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Alec Nevala-Lee — JSTOR Daily

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The Swimming Pool Library


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Interesting and absurd,

“The Swimmer”: a jovial middle-aged Westchester resident named Ned “Neddy” Merrill, gin-drunk in his friend’s backyard, announces his intention to swim home by way of the fifteen private (and one public) pools that punctuate the properties between himself and his Bullet Park mansion. This setting is powerfully Cheeveresque, to the extent that Mad Men—which shook down many of Cheever’s stories for tone and content—located the Drapers’ Ossining residence on Bullet Park Road, a fictional street named for Cheever’s 1969 novel, Bullet Park. In “The Swimmer,” Ned’s impetus seems mostly romantic; a way of leaving the party in style, reassembling the built waterscape into something natural. “He seemed to see, with a cartographer’s eye, that string of swimming pools, that quasi-subterranean stream that curved across the county.” There’s no good reason for Ned to do this, other than the fact that he wants to, and believes he can.

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Naomi Skwarna — Hazlitt

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How Men and Women Have Different Dating Profile Pics


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Some very interesting data. Example – Men are less likely to smile than women in their profile picture.

Just 4.8% of women are in their swimwear in their main profile picture. Not many people wear their bathing suits in their dating profile photos, though women are 10x more likely to be in their bathing suits than men. Given that photos in swimwear tend of perform better on dating sites for both genders, perhaps it’s time for men to show a little more skin?

Wearing sunglasses in your profile photo is generally considered a no-no for your dating profile photo. 

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Priceonomics

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Silicon Valley’s Crisis of Conscience


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Esalen is the place.

Esalen is one such place. Another is 1440 Multiversity, a sleek campus in Santa Cruz County—the boutique hotel to Esalen’s summer camp. Spirit Rock, a meditation center in Marin County, recently held a gathering to discuss “technology as an existential threat to mindfulness.” There are invitation-only dinners, private cuddle parties, conferences called Responsible Tech and Wisdom 2.0. “There’s a lot of debate about what to call it,” Paula Goldman, who runs a new department at the software company Salesforce called the Office of Ethical and Humane Use, said. “Ethical tech? Responsible tech?” If the name is one source of confusion, the substance is another. Is it a movement, or the stirrings of what might become a movement? Is it evidence of canny P.R., or of deep introspection?

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Andrew Marantz — The New Yorker

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Tarantino’s Most Transgressive Film


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As usual, you can’t ignore a Tarantino movie.

We can’t have a movie like this. It affirms things the culture wants killed. If men aren’t encouraged to cry in public, where will we end up? And the bottom line is the bottom line: Audiences don’t want to see this kind of thing anymore. The audience wants the kind of movies the justice critics want. But the audience gave Once Upon a Time in Hollywood the biggest opening of Tarantino’s career. The critics may not get it, but the public does. Is Tarantino making a reactionary statement at a dangerous time? Or does the title tell the truth, that the whole thing—including those old masculine values—was always just a fairy tale, a world “that never really existed, but feels like a memory”?

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Caitlin Flanagan — The Atlantic

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In Search of Lost Time on YouTube


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Like the fossilized mosquito in Jurassic Park, these scraps of cultural ephemera hold the DNA of a lost world. From them I can extract and return from extinction a long-ago living room, with its red carpet and exposed-brick chimney. These drops of preserved time are generous, containing in miniature a thousand blueprints for memories: a suburban swimming pool sealed up for the winter, along with school friends’ train-track smiles, a history project on George Washington, neon highlighters, sour candies in the shape of keys fizzing on the tongue, social anxieties and family worries, the touch of a cousin’s warm, bald head, the starship Enterprise hanging among the stars (shot from below), the white noise of space.

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Laurence Scott — The New Atlantis

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