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Mass revolution or mass con? Universities and open courses

Free, mass online courses are sweeping the university world. Freelance journalist Erica Cervini signed up to a Princeton subject to see what the fuss was about.

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Memo to Pyne: you’re reading the wrong history curriculum

When it comes to Christopher Pyne, lawyer, republican and politician, a couple of things. First, as a lawyer, it is always important to read documents carefully, writes Tony Taylor co-editor of the upcoming History Wars and the Classroom: Global Perspectives.

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Times of India | LINKS|

The most boring day of the 20C

A group of researchers analysed 300 million events from the last century, compared the dates of each of them and came up with the least exciting day of all in the twentieth century: Sunday, April 11, 1954.

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See a Greek tragedy that’d take Freud years to untangle

The tale of King Agamemnon’s family is so dysfunctional that it makes The Simpsons look run-of-the mill, says Lloyd Bradford Syke. Enjoy a bloody night out with STC’s Residents.

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Learn how to shave with a straight razor

There isn’t a much more focused, or masculine, way to start the day than shaving with a straight razor. Try it, says Mark Andrews.

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The Wilson Quarterly | BOOKS|

How Jane Austen became a global brand

Jane Austen was hardly a household name when she died in 1817, but in the 1870s, “Austenmania” started spreading around the globe — and it isn’t dying out any time soon.

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Wired | LINKS|

30 years of Pac-Man

Classic video game Pac-Man is celebrating 30 years of being chased by ghosts, eating dots and finding Ms Pac-Man inappropriately hot. Wired has a great interview with its creator Toru Iwatani about how the game came to life.

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The New Yorker | BOOKS|

What did Jesus do?

The more you read the Gospels, the less you seem to know about who Jesus really was. Adam Gopnik goes searching through the texts to find some truth.

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The Oil Drum | ENVIRONMENT|

Electric cars: 100 years of going nowhere

Electric cars may be all the hype now, but they’ve actually been around since the 1890s. And although today’s models look a bit schmicker, they’ll still only drive you about as far as they did over a century ago.

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Poynter Online | JOURNALISM|

200 moments that have transformed journalism since 2000

The Poynter Institute’s interactive timeline identifying the 200 key moments in journalism from 2000-2009 that have shaped the current media landscape.

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Read the dark, fascinating history of Manning Clark

Historian Manning Clark left an indelible mark on this country and our thinking. But he was a man wracked with demons, as Brian Matthews’ brilliant biography shows, writes Brendan Gullifer.

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Foreign Policy | LINKS|

Cricket’s biggest controversies

The game itself may be often long, tedious and uneventful, but the sport of cricket has a colourful and controversial history. From the multi-million dollar fraud that was the Caribbean league to last year’s Pakistani shootings, a look at the game’s dark side.

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Richardson: The unhappy history of British coalitions

Disraeli’s famous line that “England does not love coalitions” will once again be put to the test, and for the Liberal Democrats, a coalition comes with particularly bad precedents.

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Boston Globe | LINKS|

Former Newsweek journo: we lied, plagarised, and drank vodka

Veteran journo Alex Beam reminisces on cutting his news industry chops at Newsweek in the 1970s: it was “like an upside-down journalism school” where he learned lots of bad habits — like poaching content from TIME.

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The Atlantic | BOOKS|

Hitchens: Dickens was a bit of a dickhead

Charles Dickens was a great writer, but a fairly awful human being, says Christopher Hitchens. Still: who better to write about lives of misery and misfortune than someone who knew it so well?

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Salon | LINKS|

The sucky history of dummies

To suck or not to suck: that is the question every parent agonises over for their slobbery, screaming little bundle of joy. So are dummies good or bad for babies? No one actually agrees, but “experts” have been squabbling about it for over 100 years.

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Information is Beautiful | ART & DESIGN|

What different colours mean to different cultures

An amazing chart showing the huge contrast in the way cultures attach meaning to colour. Pink may be “feminine” to us, but it means “healthy” to the Japanese, and “freedom” to Hindus.

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NY Review of Books | ECONOMY|

Krugman and Wells: This banking crisis feels strangely familiar…

Greece, sup-prime mortgages and Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation — the world’s latest spate of financial crisis are nothing new, write Robin Wells and Paul Krugman: they follow a well-worn script that countries have been re-enacting for centuries.

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Doc Searls Weblog | LINKS|

Doc Searls: Why Facebook will fail

Facebook is trying to take over the whole web with its new “open graph”. Yeah, I’ve heard that one before, yawns journalism and tech industry vet Doc Searls with a few lessons in internet history.

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The Guardian | BOOKS|

Christopher Hitchens reviews Animal Farm

Christopher Hitchens re-reads George Orwell’s timeless dystopian novel Animal Farm: 65 years on, there’s still a lot to learn from a pen of power-hungry pigs.

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The Guardian | ENVIRONMENT|

You thought the last volcano eruption was bad? Wait for the next one

Earth was lucky to get off with some delayed flights and bad weather after Iceland’s volcano erupted, explains Simon Winchester: the next one could wipe out the human race.

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Slate | LINKS|

How historians will view #KKHairAvatarDay

Every inane thought ever tweeted is shortly to be kept forever by the US Library of Congress. This takes digital archiving to a whole new level, but is it actually making it harder for future historians?

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Washington Post | BOOKS|

A history of US Presidential bookworms

Barack Obama is well known as a “reader” — but he’s hardly the first US President to bury his nose in a book: Nixon loved Tolstoy, Reagen studied the ideas of Milton Friedman, and Clinton liked the “cheap thrill” of a mystery novel.

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Telegraph (UK) | EUROPE|

Is Hitler responsible for Islamic extremism?

A new book claims the roots of Islamic fundamentalism can be traced back to Nazi radio broadcasts across the Middle East during WWII.

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The Times (UK) | EUROPE|

Sloganeering: what makes a great campaign catchphrase?

The British election is looming, but both parties are struggling to create a catchy catchphrase. Ben Macintyre looks at some of history’s best political slogans, and what made them stick in voters’ minds.

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