What’s the meaning of the word irrumatio? In Ancient Rome, to threaten another individual with irrumatio qualified as one of the highest offenses, topping off a list of seemingly frivolous obscenities that — needless to say — did not survive into the modern era.
The 20th of June is International Surfing Day. I’m not sure if I have the proper street cred to write about surfing. For one thing, even though I grew up on the Mid-Atlantic coast, I can’t swim. My nephew, however, was part of a hardcore crowd who surfed regularly on the beaches near Ocean City, Maryland, and the Indian River Inlet, Delaware, in the ‘80s and ‘90s.
Despite its controversial history, the Book of Common Prayer is an influential religious text and one of the most compelling works of English literature. How has this document retained its relevancy even after numerous revisions? What can it teach us about British history and the English language? We spoke with Brian Cummings, editor of the Oxford World’s Classics edition of The Book of Common Prayer, about the importance of this text.
What role does antiquity play in defining popular perceptions of Chinese culture? Kenneth W. Holloway confronted this issue recently with a set of bamboo manuscripts featured in the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Confucians have claimed these manuscripts while denying its relevance to the rest of early China. Excavated texts have the potential to transform our understanding of history, but we cannot force them to conform to long held intellectual frameworks.
100 years ago, the world was shocked by, of all things, a ballet. Le Sacre du printemps (Rite of Spring), choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky and composed by Igor Stravinsky, caused a riot when it was first performed at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris on 29 May 1913. Stravinsky’s composition was revolutionary; it introduced dissonance in classical music.
Today, 29 May 2013, is the sixtieth anniversary of the first ascent of Everest. It’s a time to reflect not only on the achievement of which mankind is capable, but also on the power of the Earth. The crash of the tectonic plates that created the Himalaya and Karakoram mountain ranges is the largest known collision in geological history. Sir Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay were the first to conquer this remote and dangerous range, and return to share the view from the summit.
The month of May is home both to World Aids Vaccine Day (also known as HIV Vaccine Awareness Day) and the anniversary of the discovery of the AIDS virus itself. But how much do we know about where the HIV virus actually came from, and how it spread to become the global killer it is today? We spoke with Dorothy H. Crawford, author of Virus Hunt: The search for the origin of HIV, about the HIV virus and its history.
The failures of leadership… the destructive power of beauty… the quest for fame… the plight of women… the brutality of war… Such themes have endured for over 2,700 years in Homer’s classic The Iliad — from the flight of Helen and Paris, to the fury of Menelaus and Agamemnon, to the fight between Hector and Achilles. We sat down with Barbara Graziosi and Anthony Verity, the writer of the introduction and translator respectively, to discuss the new Oxford World’s Classics edition of The Iliad.
By Ron Rodman
The death of Annette Funicello this month set off a wave of nostalgia among baby boomers who remember her as the star of the “Mouseketeers” of the original Mickey Mouse Club (MMC). MMC was the brainchild of Walt Disney, studio founder, entertainer, and entrepreneur, originally as a means of promoting the then new Disneyland, which opened in Anaheim, California on 17 July 1955.
What is the relationship between atherosclerosis and acute myocardial infarction? How do aldosterone blockers reduce mortality? What steps are doctors taking toward personalized cardiac medicine? What are the new drugs and devices to treat hypertension? What is salt’s role in the human diet? The international cardiology community examined these questions and more at the Cardiology Update 2013 in Davos, Switzerland earlier this year.
Who was Alan Turing and why is he regarded as one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century? How did he become the father of the computer science? How did the development of the Automatic Computing Engine lead to the development of the first modern computer? We spoke with B. Jack Copeland, author of Turing: Pioneer of the Information Age, about Turing’s work.
For the historian Mary Fulbrook, the history of the small town of Będzin hits close to home. Her mother was a refugee from Nazi Germany and a close friend to the wife of Uda Klausa, a one-time civilian administrator in that small town so close to the infamous concentration camp Auschwitz. What role did Klausa, as countless local functionaries across the Third Reich, play in facilitating Nazi policy? Fulbrook traveled to Bedzin with her son to film a series of videos exploring the subject as a companion to her book, A Small Town Near Auschwitz: Ordinary Nazis and the Holocaust.
In the last decade, 45% of all marriages in the United States were between people of different faiths. The rapidly growing number of mixed-faith families is a sign of openness and tolerance among religious communities in the United States, but what’s good for society as a whole often proves difficult for individual families. As Naomi Schaefer Riley shows in her provocative new book ‘Til Faith Do Us Part: How Interfaith Marriage is Transforming America, interfaith couples are actually less happy than others and certain combinations of religions are more likely to lead to divorce.
For Black History Month, I wrote about an American Television pioneer: Nat “King” Cole, who was the first African American to host a television show. Since many have dubbed March as “National Women’s Month,” I focus on another pioneer of early television, Dinah Shore.
It is one of the most important topics in world politics and economics, yet few understand how it works and its real impact. Austerity — that toxic combination of politics and economics — must be recognized for what it is and what it costs us. The arguments for it are thin, while the evidence of its impact on wealth and income inequality is ample. For every economy to grow, this dead economic idea needs to stay dead.
We’re very pleased to annouce the winner of the Very Short Film competition 2013. The Very Short Film competition was launched in partnership with The Guardian in October 2012.