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My Mandolin & I

The first time I held a mandolin was at a rehearsal for Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni. In the second act, the Don is trying to seduce the maid Zerlina by singing a serenade under her mistress’ window (the canzonetta “Deh, vieni alla finestra”).

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SIPRI Yearbook 2015

Oil, arms, and corruption: a poisonous nexus?

While world military spending has fallen slightly in recent years, some regions, notably Africa and the Middle East, have seen continuing rapid increases. When SIPRI published our annual military expenditure data for 2014 this April, we featured a list of the 20 countries with ‘military burdens’ – the share of military expenditure in GDP – above 4%. This compares with only 13 in 2005.

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What is the history of the word ‘hip’?

James Brown was famously introduced by Lucas ‘Fats’ Gonder at the Apollo Theater in the early 1960s as ‘The Hardest Working Man in Show Business’, an epithet that stuck with Brown for his entire life. It is a fitting term for the word hip–the hardest working word in the lexicon of American slang. For more than 110 years, hip has found a prominent place in our slang, reshaping and repurposing itself every few decades to carry itself forward, from the early 20th century’s hip to today’s hipster movement.

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A Magna Carta reading list

King John II of England ascended to the throne in 1199 after a tumultuous accession war with his nephew, Arthur of Brittany, and his ally Phillip II of France. His inheritance was the Angevin Empire, consisting of England, most of Wales and Ireland, and a large swathe of France stretching south to Toulouse and Aquitaine. And yet, this empire was crumbling. It is in this context that one of the greatest legal documents in the world was written.

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Oxford Medicine Online

World Blood Donor Day 2015: blood types [infographic]

World Blood Donor Day 2015 is celebrated on 14 June each year. This Sunday, the theme is “Thank you for saving my life,” a chance for everyone who has benefited from a blood donation to thank the donors that selflessly donated to the cause. The demand for blood is always high as the shelf life of donated blood is only 42 days.

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Magna Carta: the international dimension

The importance of Magna Carta—both at the time it was issued on 15 June 1215 and in the centuries which followed, when it exerted great influence in countries where the English common law was adopted or imposed—is a major theme of events to mark the charter’s 800th anniversary.

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Vincent van Gogh’s images of motherhood

Vincent van Gogh’s turbulent relationship with mothers—especially his own—began a full year before his birth. On 30 March 1852, Anna Carbentus van Gogh gave birth to a son, Vincent Willem van Gogh, who was stillborn. Anna tearfully buried her son in the cemetery of the parsonage where the Van Goghs lived. A year later to the day, Anna would give birth to another son, whom she also named Vincent Willem van Gogh.

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OLRLblog

Six things you didn’t know about Brighton and the law

This coming weekend is the BIALL (British and Irish Association of Law Librarians) conference in Brighton. As always, the event looks to be an engaging two days with an excellent selection of speakers talking around the theme of ‘Collaboration, Co-operation and Connectivity.’ But how well do you know the host city?

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Oxford Historical Treaties

Vienna and the abolition of the slave trade

In April 1822, sailors from the British warships HMS Iphigenia and HMS Myrmidon, after a brief but fierce fight, captured two Spanish and three French slave ships off the coast of what is now Nigeria. Prize crews sailed the ships to Freetown in Sierra Leone, where the international mixed commission which was competent to hear cases regarding the slave trade decided to liberate the slaves found on the Spanish schooners, as well as those slaves found on a Portuguese ship which the British naval vessels had taken earlier.

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Catholics and the torture chamber

Argentina, 1976. On the afternoon of 3 August, Fr. James Weeks went to his room to take a nap while the five seminarians of the La Salette congregation living with him went to attend classes. Joan McCarthy, an American nun who was visiting them, stayed by the fireplace, knitting a scarf. They would have dinner together and discuss the next mission in Jujuy, a Northwestern province of Argentina, where McCarthy worked. Suddenly, a loud noise came from the door. Before McCarthy could reach it, a mob burst into the house. Around ten men spread all over the house, claiming to be the police, looking for weapons, guerrilla hideouts, and ‘subversive fighters.’

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The ‘mullet’ mystery – Episode 23 – The Oxford Comment

Often described as ‘business in front, party in the back,’ most everyone is familiar with this infamous hairstyle, which is thought to have been popularized in the 1980s. How, then, could the term have originated as early as 1393, centuries before David Bowie ever rocked it? We embarked on an etymological journey, figuratively traveling back in time to answer what seemed like a simple question: What, exactly, is a mullet? And does it really mean what we think it means?

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ODNB

A century of British cinema

Film is little over 120 years old, and lives in film seem to fall into three phases. The first comprises those who were born before the era of film, and whose different experiences and expectations helped shape the young medium. The second comprises those who grew up with film, in the era of the studios and mass cinema-going. The third consists of those who saw the bastion of the film world assailed by new technologies, from television to video games, which divided the audience’s attention and changed professions.

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Tales of two Europes: sameness and difference at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015 Vienna

The negotiation of sameness and difference seemingly moved to Central Europe again with the 60th Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) in Vienna, which took as its motto “Building Bridges.” Austria became the host of the 2015 Eurovision after the sensational victory at the 2014 ESC in Copenhagen by Conchita Wurst, whose winning entry, “Rise like a Phoenix,” ascended to continent-wide popularity as an anthem for the diversity of sexual identity.

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Unequal at birth

Recent events in Baltimore, Ferguson, and other places have highlighted the explosive potential of discrimination and inequality. Much attention has been paid to police practices, the long-term effect of joblessness, and the trauma of the criminal justice system incarcerating large numbers of African-Americans. This focus on the present is understandable. It is also insufficient. There is a need to understand and address the huge disadvantages, and indeed disabilities, imposed on future generations by pre-natal conditions.

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oxford reference

How well do you know Australia and New Zealand? [quiz]

Happy Australian Library and Information Week! We’re wrapping up Library and Information Week here in Australia. This year’s theme is “Imagine.” Help us celebrate all of the fantastic libraries and librarians doing great things over on that side of the world. Oxford University Press has put together a quiz about all things Australia and New Zealand. Once you’ve made it through the quiz, reward yourself with a dollop of Vegemite or catch a Russell Crowe flick to get your fix of the good old outback.

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All about that Double Bass

Distinguished musicians Domenico Dragonetti (1763-1846) and Giovanni Bottesini (1821-1889) established a long-standing tradition of playing the double bass that was carried on into the 20th and 21st centuries. From the 1500s, this deep-toned string instrument has made its way from European orchestras to today’s popular music to retain a more natural acoustic sound in performances.

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