Questions in the Society & Culture category.
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March 1

Examples of taboos on holy or religiously influential people?

Maori chiefs were taboo'd from eating inside their houses, the Jewish Kohen (priests) couldn't handle dead bodies, and clerical classes across religious traditions have required celibacy -- does anyone know of any other examples of taboos on holy or religiously influential people? The cultures can range from contemporary big religions (e.g. Abrahamic) to the animism of small-scale societies - all examples are welcome!! THANKS!
posted by mrmanvir at 1:59 PM - 5 answers

This guy was brilliant...but I can't remember his name.

A couple of years ago I read a talk that was posted online by a guy (maybe a professor or culture critic) who talked about how in the future everyone would have great tech gizmos (phones, iPads, etc.) but everyone would also be poor. [more inside]
posted by zenpop at 12:17 PM - 1 answers

February 27

YANML - You are not my linguist, but how do I say this?

How to ask the user for confirmation, and not get snapped at....? The service-desk edition. [more inside]
posted by alchemist at 4:20 AM - 20 answers

Can anyone identify this ethnic pottery type?

Can anyone help identify the region/period of origin of these two pots? [more inside]
posted by Petromyzon at 3:00 AM - 2 answers

February 25

Schooling my kindergoth

Yesterday, my 13 year old daughter announced that she's goth. What that means is she really likes wearing all black. [more inside]
posted by Ruki at 4:36 PM - 38 answers

February 23

Religious Syncretism for Beginners.

Turns out – there is a word for what I’ve been fascinated by for some time! It even seems that it has been studied in some detail. Please suggest some readings for me so I explore this phenomenon in more depth. [more inside]
posted by Dotty at 6:32 PM - 9 answers

Meeting spaces in UWS New York

What public, free, indoor spaces are there in the Upper West Side in New York where a group of academics-activists can meet and discuss? For a couple of hours at a time. [more inside]
posted by carmina at 5:00 PM - 8 answers

Looking for world history books particularly about colonialism/empire

I'm looking for book recommendations for compelling history books, primarily about the advent of colonialism/imperialism and how the colonized in the Americas, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East responded to it. More details inside and thanks in advance for your help! [more inside]
posted by johnasdf at 9:32 AM - 13 answers

February 19

Medieval helicopter gets a surprising number of hits, and yet....

About 20 years ago in some display in the Air and Space museum in the Smithsonian, there was a reproduction of a medieval woodcut or silverpoint drawing of a boy with a toy helicopter. The helicopter's propeller was a cork and some feathers, and it was powered by a bowed piece of wood and a bit of string. The style of the art and the boy's hat scream Albrecht Dürer (a la his 1484 self portrait) but I don't think it was him. Can anyone help me track this bit of historic trivia down?
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:34 PM - 4 answers

Can anyone give me advice on how to get a possible artifact identified.

I was given this artifact?, and am now trying to figure out how to identify what it is. [more inside]
posted by keame at 8:51 PM - 7 answers

The rose tinted glasses of tourism...some book recommendations

I am always facinated by how tourists perceive the lands to which the with visit with rose-tinted glasses...The people are seen as friendlier, the food is nicer, the sights are more interesting, the natives seem more cultured, the transport seems better and even the Coca-Cola tastes nicer. [more inside]
posted by jacobean at 11:34 AM - 7 answers

"What's the Matter with Kids Today?"

I'm looking for quotes that express one generation's frustration with the next. [more inside]
posted by ElaineMc at 3:53 AM - 21 answers

February 18

Finding/decorating a festive and warm rickshaw/art-car thing in NYC?

My mom just had bunion surgery on her foot. We have joked about carrying her around on a palanquin built for a queen--piled high with cushions, carried by servants feeding her peeled grapes--and I want to make a variation of this happen! This Saturday. I have about 4 friends to help, am already dreaming about props and costumes, and am ready to shell out some dough if needed for an epic surprise. Challenges: it's 25 degrees in NY. A carriage ride seems touristy and not that over-the-top. I want to surprise her and spoil her and make her laugh.
posted by red_rabbit at 8:40 PM - 3 answers

How do I learn to fully appreciate classical music?

I have recently become fascinated by Beethoven’s 9th, 8th and 5th symphonies, partly because I am familiar with some of the historical/philosophical context. I study and am familiar with the history of modern European philosophy (including Enlightenment philosophy and German Idealism) which I suspect could give me a beneficial entryway into the world of classical music. Can anyone recommend a method or approach to appreciating classical music more? Does anyone have suggestions for the best pieces and composers to set out with?
posted by nagoya at 5:40 AM - 20 answers

February 17

Help me remember a fantasy novel from the 90s

Help me remember a fantasy novel from the 90s. Should have been available in paperback form around 1996. [more inside]
posted by deathpanels at 7:18 PM - 12 answers

February 16

Growing pains, should I seek help?

I'm a man and in my mid 20's. I'm currently working on attaining my masters in social work, I've been reading up on research and While I'm no psychiatrist I do feel that I have suffered episodes of abandonment. My Stepfather ( who has raised me since I was two) suffered during his upbringing. He never met his father and his mom neglected a lot of her motherly duties. [more inside]
posted by imagine_dragon at 9:05 PM - 9 answers

Yacht or not?

Does actor Colin Firth own a yacht? Has he ever publicly expressed interest in owning a yacht? (I am aware he is slated to appear in an upcoming movie featuring a yacht.) [more inside]
posted by synecdoche at 9:33 AM - 3 answers

Can you help track down my fictional relative in a French spy thriller?

I was helping my dad with some genealogical research, trying to figure out how his ancestors migrated from Swedish-ruled Skåne in the 17th Century to Russian-ruled Gdansk in the 18th. I transliterated our family name, Tulinius, into Russian (Тулиниус). I didn't have much luck finding ancestors, but I did come across a fictional Icelandic Тулиниус in a Russian translation of a French spy thriller in the Coplan series by Paul Kenny. As far as Google translate can tell me, the original name of the book is Coplan sème la panique. As my dad is fluent in French, I'd like to get this as birthday present for him, but I want to be sure the character's really named "Tulinius" and that it isn't just a false hit caused by transliteration of a similar name. Is there any way I can find this out?
posted by Kattullus at 6:38 AM - 4 answers

February 12

On the hunt for field recordings of traditional healing songs!!

I'm working on a project with some friends collecting songs from traditional societies around the world and comparing their musical characteristics (tempo, pitch, etc.). We've found nearly everything we need, but we're left with five items, all of which are healing songs from various regions (a healing song is any song used for medicinal or healing purposes, often sung by a shaman or medicine-person). See specifics inside! [more inside]
posted by mrmanvir at 11:10 AM - 4 answers

February 11

Modern Union Activity and Corporation Responses

I'm doing some background research for a writing project and I'm looking for material related to recent burgeoning union activity, particularly in the fast food and retail sectors. [more inside]
posted by smithsmith at 12:41 PM - 5 answers

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