links for 2010-08-29

  • The first people to be liberated by Britain in the second world war were our own criminals. As the declaration of hostilities was announced in 1939, the gates of the country's prisons swung open for any inmate with less than three months left to serve and all the Borstal boys who had completed six months.

    Next month sees the 70th anniversary of the start of the blitz and there will be, quite rightly, many celebrations of the courage and stoicism displayed during it. What may receive less publicity are the activities of those who took advantage of the confusion to make their criminal fortunes because, as most of the nation pulled together to help each other, others were very busily helping themselves.

    (tags: ww2)
  • Whisky is the liquid gold that emerges from the distillation of base beer. It is "the separation of the gross from the subtle and the subtle from the gross … to make the spiritual lighter by its subtlety" (Hieronymus Brunschwig, 15th century doctor and distiller). Almost all spirits are produced by distillation: a liquid with a low alcohol content such as wine or beer can be taken and from it a spirit produced. Alchemists believed that through repeated distillation they could extract the essence or spirit of a material and that from wine they could extract the aqua vītae or water of life. The word itself, whisky, is an Anglicised version of the Gaelic for water of life: uisge beatha or usquebaugh is what Irish and Scots monks called their distilled barley beer.
    (tags: whisky)
  • The La Miniatura in Pasadena is among two of [Frank Lloyd] Wright's experimental textile-block homes that have languished on the market, the Los Angeles Times reported.

    In 2008 agent Crosby Doe listed the partially restored home at $7.7 million, but recently dropped it to under $5 million.

    He says it is a longshot but he has been talking to an international art dealer with Japanese art-collector clients who might be interested in buying the house.

    (tags: architecture)
  • They are an impulse holiday purchase that many buyers later have second thoughts about – the fake Louis Vuitton bags and Rolex watches picked up for a song abroad.

    While shoppers are happy with the price, there are often nagging doubts about the items' quality, their legality and who ends up profiting.

    However, such worries are, it seems, over. A new EU-funded report has declared that it is OK to buy fake designer goods.

    (tags: fake)
  • A new study shows that people feel morally cleansed when they are physically clean, and as such are more inclined to judge others more harshly.

    The study, with the somewhat Victorian-sounding name of “A clean self can render harsh moral judgment” was conducted by Chen-Bo Zhong at Northwestern University and appears in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

    Some 58 undergrads were invited to a lab filled with spotless new equipment. Half of the students were asked to clean their hands with antiseptic wipe, so as not to soil the shiny surfaces. Afterward all the students rated the morality of six societal issues — smoking, illegal drug use, pornography, profane language, littering and adultery — on an 11-point scale ranging from very moral to very immoral. Those who’d wiped their hands made far-harsher judgments than those who didn’t.


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