Alexa Meade's human canvases: Great slideshow of Meade's portraits: Instead of painting pictures of people on canvas, she applies the paint directly to her subjects, then photographs them. (Slate)
Restoring Hitchcock's silent films: "The opening moments of The Pleasure Garden, touted in the fan magazines as the debut of 'the youngest director in the world', contained, under the 'directed by' credit, the slanted and underlined signature of the 26-year-old Alfred J Hitchcock. What followed was also -- as it would become clear over the decades -- signature Hitchcock film-making...." (The Guardian)
The history of waking up: "The Knocker-Up (also referred to as a Knocker-Upper) gained prominence during the Industrial Revolution by using a long stick with wire or a knob affixed to the end to rouse customers at a desired time. Clients would agree verbally, in advance, or simply post a preferred time on doors or windows...." (Mental Floss)
Obama's reading list: Yes, this will make you feel like an underachiever. (The Daily Beast)
Duplicitous Neo-Nazi t-shirts: Sold by activists at a right-wing rock show in Germany: "The t-shirts originally read 'hardcore rebels' and sported a skull and nationalist flags. However, once the garment had been washed, the shirt revealed a new message that offered to help far-right extremists break away from the neo-Nazi scene.... “If your t-shirt can do it, you can do it too -- we’ll help you get away from right-wing extremism.” (TNW)
How we got our alphabets: James Clackson, Cambridge classicist, explains the origin of the alphabet over a slideshow of illustrative photographs. (BBC)
[Image: The Codex Zographensis.]
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Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.
Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.
Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.
Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.
Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."
Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.
Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.