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Friday, October 24, 2014

Diversity poster of the day

Normal? Really?

It's possible that this description of a Venus Flytrap is inaccurate


via @YouHadOneJob

Friday links

How to Prevent Pregnancy, c. 1260 (the weasel/scorpion method), plus other dubious medical advice.

Why blackmail is called "blackmail", plus the origin of the lesser known "buttockmail".

Feast Your Eyes on This Beautiful Linguistic Family Tree.



No-Rules NASCAR: If you stripped away all the rules of car racing and had a contest which was simply to get a human being around a track 200 times as fast as possible, what strategy would win?

ICYMI, Tuesday's links are here, including Asimov's just-published 1959 paper for DARPA, a zombie-proof log cabin kit, the world's oldest genitals, and Stage 6 Alzheimer's patient Glen Campbell's final song to his wife: I'm Not Gonna Miss You.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

From 1803, The Ottoman Empire's First Map of the Newly Minted United States

Via Slate:

What did the United States look like to observers from the Ottoman Empire (wiki) in 1803? In this map, the newly independent U.S. is labeled “The Country of the English People” (“İngliz Cumhurunun Ülkesi”). The Iroquois Confederacy shows up as well, labeled the “Government of the Six Indian Nations.” Other tribes shown on the map include the Algonquin, Chippewa, Western Sioux (Siyu-yu Garbî), Eastern Sioux (Siyu-yu Şarkî), Black Pawnees (Kara Panis), and White Pawnees (Ak Panis).

Click here for a zoomable version, and/or visit the map's page in the digital collections of the Osher Map Library, University of Southern Maine. 



via Geekpress.

Dance battle between a priest from Hyde Park, NY (my home town) and one from Milwaukee, WI

Rome: A video of a pair of dueling, dancing American priests studying in Rome has gone viral. The Rev. David Rider, 29, of Hyde Park, New York, and the Rev. John Gibson, 28, of Milwaukee, first shot to Internet fame when they were filmed in April during a fundraiser at the North American College, the elite American seminary up the hill from the Vatican.



Via Ed Morrisey at Hot Air:
Fr. David told us a little bit about his dancing at the dinner party. He began life as an entertainer on stage but got the call to the priesthood. He wondered whether it would be appropriate to continue dancing, but was inspired by St. John Paul II to the priesthood and to make his dancing show the joy of Jesus Christ. Catholic News Service linked to this 2012 video of Fr. David (as a seminarian) explaining both his call and how he sees his dancing as part of his evangelization:

How to Prevent Pregnancy, c. 1260 (the weasel/scorpion method), plus other dubious medical advice

So, are the old ways always the best? I tend to think so, being a grandma, but I have my doubts about this one:
 
"A weasel placed on a scorpion bite helps greatly... if its heel is taken from it while it still lives and is placed on a woman, she will not get pregnant as long as it is there." 
~Albertus Magnus, De animalibus

via the excellent blog Ask the Past, which adds: 
As if you needed another reason to keep a live weasel in your bedroom.
Not sure if it worked? Here's advice from 1684 on How To Know If You're Pregnant:
"The women are troubled with nauseating and loathing of their meat, and oftentimes covet and greedily long for things contrary to Nutriment, as Coals, Rubish, Chalk, Lime, Starch, Oat-meal, raw Flesh and Fish or the like, which desire proceeds from a former contraction of evil humours... some Women as it has been noted by divers Authors of Credit, have been so extravegant in their longings, that they have coveted Hob-Nails, Leather, Horse Flesh, Mans Flesh, and the Flesh of divers ravenous Beasts..."
~Aristoteles Master-piece (1684)
Then there's advice for caring for your newborn:
“After the woman has delivered the child, you should know how to take care of the child. Know that as soon as the child is born, it should be wrapped in crushed roses mixed with fine salt… And when one wishes to swaddle [the baby], the members should be gently couched and arranged so as to give them a good shape, and this is easy for a wise nurse; for just as wax when it is soft takes whatever form one wishes to give to it, so also the child takes the form which its nurses give to it. And for this reason, you should know that beauty and ugliness are due in large measure to nurses. And when its arms are swaddled, and the hands over the knees, and the head lightly swaddled and covered, let it sleep in the cradle.”
~Aldobrandino of Siena, Regimen for the Body (1254), tr. Faith Wallis
And this: Anoint the gums with the brains of a hare: advice from c. 1450 on soothing a teething baby:
Andrea Mantegna, The Circumcision of Jesus 
(detail, c. 1461)
"Sometimes babies have trouble with teething. In that case you should squeeze the gums with your fingers, and gently massage them, and the palate as well. And you should anoint the gums with the brains of a hare (which are very suitable for this purpose), or with fat or butter or good-quality olive oil; and you should do this twice a day. The milk of a dog is suitable, too. It is also very helpful to use hen's fat for both anointing and massaging the gums."

~Michele Savonarola, Ad mulieres ferrarienses (c. 1450)
If you like this sort of thing, I recommend the book How to Cure the Plague, and Other Curious Remedies.

Previous, semi-related posts:

Advice from c. 530: How To Use Bacon, including for medicinal purposes such as "thick bacon, placed for a long time on all wounds, be they external or internal or caused by a blow, both cleanses any putrefaction and aids healing".

Advice from 1489: To stay young, suck blood from a youth.

How to Stop Bleeding, 1664:
“To Stench a Bleeding Wound: Lay hogs Dung, hot from the Hog, to the Bleeding Wound.”
~Samuel Strangehopes, A Book of Knowledge in Three Parts (166[4])
Dubious medical device du jour - the prostate warmer.

Advice from 1380: How to Tell if Someone Is or Is Not Dead, with bonus Monty Python.

Is Eating Your Boogers Good For You?

Urine-drinking Hindu cult believes a warm cup before sunrise straight from virgin cow cures cancer, baldness.

Workplace safety cartoon of the day



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Yesterday was Trafalgar Day: history, videos, art and links

May the Great God, whom I worship, grant to my country and for the benefit of Europe in general, a great and glorious Victory; and may no misconduct in any one tarnish it; and may humanity after Victory be the predominant feature of the British Fleet. For myself, individually, I commit my life to Him who made me, and may His blessing light upon my endeavors for serving my Country faithfully. To Him I resign myself and the just cause which is entrusted to me to defend. Amen. Amen. Amen.
~Horatio, Lord Nelson (his prayer, 20 October 1805, on the eve of the Battle of Trafalgar) 

No captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside that of an enemy.
~Nelson (memorandum, written onboard HMS Victory, off Cadiz, 9 October 1805) 

ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY
~Nelson's favorite signal* (made "general" to the fleet by him for the last time at 1156 on 21 October 1805) 

October 21 is Trafalgar Day (wiki) in the Royal Navy, the 209th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar and the death of England's greatest naval hero, Admiral Horatio Nelson on 21 October 1805. Fought off the southwest coast of Spain, Trafalgar was the greatest naval victory of the Napoleonic wars and essentially destroyed the sea power of France in a single engagement. Nelson and the British fleet had been blockading the French and Spanish fleet under Villeneuve in Cadiz after pursuing it to the Caribbean and back. When Villeneuve finally emerged to give battle, Nelson, depending on the superior seamanship and fighting skill of his "band of brothers" and the British sailor, adopted an unorthodox tactic that split the French/Spanish line into three parts and led to a general melee in which the British took 19 ships without loss.

Larger version here. One of several paintings
of the battle of Trafalgar by English
 artist J.M.W. Turner (1875-1851) 
At the height of the battle however, Nelson was cut down by a French sharpshooter's bullet, and he died a few hours later. In his History of Modern Europe (1883), Charles Alan Fyfe wrote, 

"Trafalgar was not only the greatest naval victory, it was the greatest and the most momentous victory either by land or by sea during the whole of the Revolutionary War.** No victory, and no series of victories, of Napoleon produced the same effect upon Europe... Nelson's last triumph left England in such a position that no means remained to injure her."

* N.B. However, much more famous was his signal at the start of the battle:

"ENGLAND EXPECTS THAT EVERY MAN WILL DO HIS DUTY"

In signal flags, this appeared as:


** Meaning here, the conflicts that followed the French revolution in 1789.

Battlefield Academy: Refight Trafalgar! - Refight Nelson's greatest battle against the remorseless Artificial Intelligence engine of the Academy.

Here's a 1955 newsreel of Queen Elizabeth celebrating Trafalgar day:



And a short video re-enactment:


Another of Turner's paintings of the battle:


Since this post is largely is about Trafalgar Day the Lady Hamilton affair is left out. BBC History has more on that, if you're interested.

Also, here's their Animated Map: Battle of Trafalgar - A step-by-step guide to the battle.

And additional resources:

The Battle of Trafalgar by Andrew Lambert




The Art of War Gallery by Professor Daniel Moran


Women in Nelson's Navy by Nick Slope

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Guy missing both legs arranges chainsaw massacre prank

He scared the crap out of a bunch of people. I'd give this a PG-13 rating, unless you want your kids to have nightmares:



Links to various aspects of the filming at youtube. Behind-the-scenes video:



via @rdbrewer at Ace.

Tuesday links


Take Your Paranoia To The Next Level With This Zombie-Proof Log Cabin Kit.

President of Belarus declares country's sausage is free of toilet paper


World's oldest genitals found (yes, I know - the Hugh Hefner jokes just write themselves).

In 1976, Operation Paul Bunyan was conducted into North Korea to take down a tree.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include (without limitation) an illustrated guide for girding up your loins (and additional manly links), a compilation of Rita Hayward's dancing set to Stayin' Alive, and Quentin Tarantino's 1995 episode of ER.