Rattan, the Mai Tai, and Blue Hawaii: A History in “Exotic” Escapism

Polynesian pop and Tiki culture have always been about escapism.... The trend got its beginnings in the 20s, though social and artistic obsessions with tropical climes have existed for as long as Europeans and Americans have been around to "discover" them. Escapism, however, is not a uniquely "Western" obsession; most everyone finds joy in a …

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On the Radar: Kurokawa’s Takara Beautilion Pavilion at Japan’s EXPO ’70

Famous architect Kisho Kurokawa designed this groovy building for a world's fair in Osaka called EXPO '70--the first to be held in Japan. Kurokawa took a great interest in philosophy and idealized, himself, that every culture has two traditions: the visible and the invisible. He focused the majority of his work on Japan's "invisible" traditions, …

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Remembering Henry “Black Death” Johnson and the Harlem Hellfighters 100 Years Past Their Due

There is not, perhaps, a more amazing story of American valor and patriotism in World War I than that of the 369th Infantry Regiment. But it is also perhaps the most disappointing because of the regiment's reception by the American government and its white citizens. One might think that stopping a 24-man German advance with …

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On the Radar: Gerhard Richter’s Emotional Photo-Painting of His Aunt

For those familiar with Gerhard Richter, he is often associated with his abstract, colorful "squeegee" works. A large portion of his artistic production, however, consists of photo paintings that include his trademark "blur." In this particular painting--one of his early works--Richter copied a photo of his Aunt Marianne holding Richter as an infant. His Aunt …

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The Gilded Age Woman Who Put the Original “Joy” in American Cooking

In the days where many average home cooks rely heavily on cook book recipes and Youtube tutorials, one shudders to think there existed a time without them. Before the amazing preponderance of TV chefs, Buzzfeed's Tasty, and the like, people in America cooked without standardized measurements and without recipes until the last few decades of …

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On the Radar: NASA’s Infamous “Gimbal Rig”

This image shows NASA's Gimbal Rig in motion. NASA used this device to test Mercury astronauts' ability to recover from disorientation that resulted from up to 30 RPM in simultaneous roll, pitch, and yaw. The astronauts had to reset their mock instruments after--and sometimes during--the exercise to prove they could control the craft in tumble …

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Nintendo: Rise of a Gaming Generation

Before video games--before board games, for that matter--there were playing cards.  Though a fixture of China's entertainment scene since the 10th century, playing cards did not reach isolationist Japan until the Portuguese introduced them in the 16th century. The shogunate at the time banned the cards but as times and dynasties changed, the powers that …

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On the Radar: The Massive Soviet Lun-Class “Ekranoplan”

This "Ekranoplan" looks like part-plane, part-ship. In reality, it's what one would call a "ground effect vehicle," which uses the ground effect concept to "fly" seriously low over ground or, more commonly, water. Though Russia retired this particular vehicle, the country has plans to develop similar military crafts very soon, armed with cruise missiles. Watch …

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What Did the 1919 Paris Peace Conference Have to Do with the Vietnam War?

All roads lead to Paris, or so it seemed to what remained of the young male generation following the Great War. And certainly for colonists desiring nations of their own, the only place worth a shot was Paris in 1919, especially when U.S. President Woodrow Wilson introduced the idea of "self-determination" in his famous "Fourteen …

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On the Radar: The First Animation Showing a Horse “Hovers” During Its Run

As recently as the late-1800s, people had no idea how horses ran. To the general public's astonishment, Eadweard Muybridge revealed that at a point during a single "revolution," all of a horse's four legs hover over the ground. This was demonstrated through stop-motion photography, which has been animated here. Muybridge made an animated projection of …

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On the Radar: Barbecue Back in the Day, North Carolina

Modern methods for making pulled pork did not always exist, of course. Back before large pig roasters and custom-made grills, North Carolinians made do with pots, trenches, some sticks, and some sort of utensil to baste on that glorious BBQ sauce. Source: State Archives of North Carolina Flickr Be sure to check out the entire …

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