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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Tuesday links

Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, was born on May 22, 1859

Exercise for Women in the early 19th Century

What to do if you find yourself choking -- and no one's around.

1927 documentary on how to dial a telephone.

Gallery of photos from the Halifax explosion - the naval accident that erased an entire city in Canada.

Remembering the ‘Knocker-Ups’ Hired to Wake Workers With Pea Shooters.

ICYMI, Monday's links are here, and include the invention of the baby carrot, phrases commonly used today that come from obsolete technologies, a device used to resuscitate canaries in coal mines, Ziploc bag engineering, and the guy who makes the world’s best paper airplanes.

Monday, May 21, 2018

1927 documentary on how to dial a telephone

Model 102
I'm always fascinated by the technology of thisgs tha we take so completely for granted - the development of the telephone is an excellent example.

The rotary dial is a device mounted on or in a telephone or switchboard that is designed to send electrical pulses, known as pulse dialing, corresponding to the number dialed. The early form of the rotary dial used lugs on a finger plate instead of holes. 

The modern version of the rotary dial with holes was first introduced in 1904 but did not enter service in the Bell System until 1919. The rotary dial was gradually supplanted by Dual-tone multi-frequency pushbutton dialing, introduced at the 1962 World's Fair, which uses a keypad instead of a dial...

Older candlestick model
The Model 102 telephone (B1 mount/set) was Western Electric's first widely distributed telephone set to feature the transmitter and receiver in a common handset. Prior models had been of the "candlestick" type, which featured a transmitter fixed to the base, and a receiver held to the ear. The 102 was manufactured between 1927 and 1929.

More on the history of these telephone models at youtube.

via Kottke.

Monday links

The Guy Who Makes the World’s Best Paper Airplanes.


The Invention of the Baby Carrot

Phrases commonly used today which are derived from obsolete technologies.

This device was used to resuscitate canaries in coal mines.

The Surprisingly Complex Design of the Ziploc Bag.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include medieval fitness programs, an interactive map showing all of the roads leading to Rome, lost survival tips from 100 years ago (with illustrations), and the Great Sperm Race, scaled up to human size (plus bonus Monty Python). 

Friday, May 18, 2018

What phrases commonly used today are derived from obsolete technologies?

I've always found phrase origins fascinating - they can give us a glimpse into an entirely different reality, and, perhaps more importantly, they remind us of how many things we accept without question. We should definitely be questioning more.

Some examples of origins you may not know: 

"Hang up the phone."
 This comes from one specific kind of land-line phone that had a kind of hook you'd hang the handset from when you were done. Doing so would pull down the hook that was connected to a switch inside the phone that would disconnect the line.
Originating from printing houses in the days of moveable type:

Upper Case and Lower Case: 
The individual type blocks used in hand typesetting are stored in shallow wooden or metal drawers known as "type cases". Each is subdivided into a number of compartments ("boxes") for the storage of different individual letters.
The terms upper and lower case originate from this division. By convention, when the two cases were taken out of the storage rack, and placed on a rack on the compositor's desk, the case containing the capitals and small capitals stood at a steeper angle at the back of the desk, with the case for the small letters, punctuation and spaces being more easily reached at a shallower angle below it to the front of the desk, hence upper and lower case.


"Mind your Ps and Qs":
A warning to printers’ apprentices to take care when selecting the little blocks with letters on, to ensure that they didn’t confuse the P block with the Q block, and vice versa.


Cut (or copy) and paste: 
The term "cut and paste" comes from the traditional practice in manuscript-editings whereby people would cut paragraphs from a page with scissors and paste them onto another page. This practice remained standard into the 1980s.


To run through the wringer (or put through the wringer) referred to this laundry device that predated the spin cycle.


There's lots of ship-related stuff (more here):

Above Board - Anything on or above the open deck. If something is open and in plain view, it is above board.

As the Crow Flies - When lost or unsure of their position in coastal waters, ships would release a caged crow. The crow would fly straight towards the nearest land thus giving the vessel some sort of a navigational fix. The tallest lookout platform on a ship came to be know as the crow's nest.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea - The devil seam was the curved seam in the deck planking closest to the side of the ship and next to the scupper gutters. If a sailor slipped on the deck, he could find himself between the devil and the deep blue sea.

Deck hatch
Booby Hatch - Aboard ship, a booby hatch is a sliding cover or hatch that must be pushed away to allow access or passage.

Buoyed Up - Using a buoy to raise the bight of an anchor cable to prevent it from chafing on a rough bottom.

By and Large - Currently means in all cases or in any case. From the nautical: by meaning into the wind and large meaning with the wind: as in, "By and Large the ship handled very well."

Groggy - In 1740, British Admiral Vernon (whose nickname was "Old Grogram" for the cloak of grogram which he wore) ordered that the sailors' daily ration of rum be diluted with water. The men called the mixture "grog". A sailor who drank too much grog was "groggy".

Leeway - The weather side of a ship is the side from which the wind is blowing. The Lee side is the side of the ship sheltered from the wind. A lee shore is a shore that is downwind of a ship. If a ship does not have enough "leeway" it is in danger of being driven onto the shore.

Pipe Down - Means stop talking and be quiet. The Pipe Down was the last signal from the Bosun's pipe each day which meant "lights out" and "silence".

Pooped - The poop is the stern section of a ship. To be pooped is to be swamped by a high, following sea.

Rummage Sale - From the French "arrimage" meaning ship's cargo. Damaged cargo was sold at a rummage sale.

Scuttlebutt - A butt was a barrel. Scuttle meant to chop a hole in something. The scuttlebutt was a water barrel with a hole cut into it so that sailors could reach in and dip out drinking water. The scuttlebutt was the place where the ship's gossip was exchanged.

Skyscraper - A small triangular sail set above the skysail in order to maximize effect in a light wind.

Bitter end
Slush Fund - A slushy slurry of fat was obtained by boiling or scraping the empty salted meat storage barrels. This stuff called "slush" was often sold ashore by the ship's cook for the benefit of himself or the crew. The money so derived became known as a slush fund.

The Bitter End - The end of an anchor cable is fastened to the bitts at the ship's bow. If all of the anchor cable has been payed out you have come to the bitter end.

The Devil to Pay - To pay the deck seams meant to seal them with tar. The devil seam was the most difficult to pay because it was curved and intersected with the straight deck planking. Some sources define the "devil" as the below-the-waterline-seam between the keel and the the adjoining planking. Paying the Devil was considered to be a most difficult and unpleasant task.

Sails "in the wind"
Three Sheets to the Wind - A sheet is a rope line which controls the tension on the downwind side of a square sail. If, on a three masted fully rigged ship, the sheets of the three lower course sails are loose, the sails will flap and flutter and are said to be "in the wind". A ship in this condition would stagger and wander aimlessly downwind.

To Know the Ropes - There was miles and miles of cordage in the rigging of a square rigged ship. The only way of keeping track of and knowing the function of all of these lines was to know where they were located. It took an experienced seaman to know the ropes.

And, moving beyond the nautical:

Post in the sense of "a blog post": from the act of nailing a sign to a wooden post, or from sending a message via a system of posted riders and horses (i.e., they are assigned to their stations, a.k.a. their posts).

Run of the Mill: Mills have very large and heavy grinding stones, it takes some time to get to normal speed for grinding grains. At the operational speed, they produce a nice, fine and uniform powder or grounded grains (flour etc.), this "steady state" output was called run of the mill. Which has come to mean "ordinary".

Software bugs and debugging: In the context of computers it uses was popularized by Grace Murray Hopper, involving an electromechanical fault in the Mark II computer, due to a moth stuck in one of the relays. 



Know of any others? Leave them in the comments!

Friday links

The Great Sperm Race: The Most Extreme Race on Earth, Scaled To Human Size (plus bonus Monty Python). 
"Meet Glenn. Like most average men Glenn has no idea about the miracle of engineering tucked away in his pants." 


An Interactive Map Shows Just How Many Roads Actually Lead to Rome.

25 Lost Survival Tips from 100 Years Ago – with Illustrations.


ICYMI, Monday's links are here, and include the practice of execution by cannon, ancient Rome's urine tax, more human feet washing up in British Columbia, and pigeons with cameras.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

An Interactive Map Shows Just How Many Roads Actually Lead to Rome

Zoomable version here.

...he went away, and passing through what was called the house of Tiberius, went down into the forum, to where a gilded column stood, at which all the roads that intersect Italy terminate.

~ Plutarch, Life of Galba (XXIV.4)

All roads lead to Rome.

To illustrate, designers Benedikt GroƟ and Philipp Schmitt worked with digital geographer Raphael Reimann to select 486,713 starting points on a 26,503,452 km² grid of Europe. The image above is from their interactive map Roads to Rome - zoom in for detail.

Via Open Culture, where they also point out:
In a nod to map lovers outside of Europe, the mobility-obsessed team came up with another map, this one geared to stateside users.
Do you know which of the United States’ nine Romes you are closest to?
Now you do, from 312,719 distinct starting points.

The Guy Who Makes the World’s Best Paper Airplanes

In this video from WIRED, John Collins (website), aka "The Paper Airplane Guy," who's devoted the last two decades of his life to paper airplanes, talks about how he designs and flies the world's best and coolest paper planes.



Monday, May 14, 2018

The Great Sperm Race: The Most Extreme Race on Earth. Scaled To Human Size (plus bonus Monty Python)


A contest with 250 million competitors; only one winner... relentless obstacles, outrageous fatality rate.
Within 30 minutes of ejaculation, over 99 percent of the sperm will be dead or dying. But for those that remain it will be a vicious 14-hour fight to the end, with only one champion!
Sizing Up Sperm (full documentary embedded below) uses real people to represent 250 million sperm on their marathon quest to be first to reach a single egg; it was made by NatGeo in 2009:
Scaled up to human size with the sperm played by real people, The Great Sperm Race tells the story of human conception as it's never been told before using helicopter-mounted cameras, world-renowned scientists, CGI and dramatic reconstruction to illustrate the extraordinary journey of sperm.
With the microscopic world of sperm and egg accurately scaled up by 34,000 times, we see the human-sized heroes negotiate some of the world's most striking landscapes when the epic proportions of the vagina become the Canadian Rockies and the buildings on London's South Bank symbolise the intricacies of the cervix.
With the female body designed to repel and destroy invaders, from acidic vaginal walls to impassable cervical crypts, the sperm face unremitting obstacles. 'The battle that sperm have in order to find and fertilise an egg is just immense,' explains Dr Allan Pacey.
'Everything is working against sperm and they're not really given a helping hand by the female reproductive tract.'
A team of Leukocytes from the female immune system are sent to kill the sperm in the uterus:



On the left you see sperm squished in the cervix, and on the right is an army of freshly created sperm waiting inside a giant testicle. 


Here's a trailer for the show - the whole documentary is below that:

I love this - it's near the beginning:
Meet Glenn. Like most average men Glenn has no idea about the miracle of engineering tucked away in his pants. 


The whole thing:



And, of course, Monty Python's Every Sperm is Sacred skit from The Meaning Of Life:



via the excellent Dark Roasted Blend, which has lots of additional images.

Monday links



The Urine Tax of Ancient Rome.

Science: Why is the sky blue? How do bees and butterflies see? How does an igloo keep you warm?

Figure Out Where You Are With Nothing But a Watch and Protractor.

If you're keeping a scorecard on the human feet being washed up in British Columbia, it's time for an update (spoiler - this is number 14).

ICYMI, Friday's links are here and are all Mother's Day related: good and bad animal and human moms, top sci-fi moms, how grandmothers gave humans longer lifespans, and gifts for your wino mom or wife. Not included but related: The Ultimate Guide to Bizarre Lies Your Mom Told You.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Smothered Pork Chops With Cider and Apples

Smothered Pork Chops With Cider and Apples

adapted from America's Test Kitchen New Best Recipe cookbook.

Serve smothered chops with a starch to soak up the rich gravy. Simple egg noodles were the test kitchen favorite, but rice or mashed potatoes also taste great. 

Serves 4

3 ounces (about 3 slices) bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups apple cider
vegetable oil
4 bone-in, rib-end pork chops 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick
ground black pepper
1 medium yellow onion halved pole to pole and sliced thin
table salt
2 tablespoons water
2 medium cloves of garlic, pressed through garlic press or minced (about 2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 large or 2 small Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 3/8-inch wedges

1. Fry bacon in small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel-lined plate, leaving fat in saucepan (you should have 2 tablespoons bacon fat; if not, supplement with vegetable oil). Reduce heat to medium-low and gradually whisk flour into fat until smooth. Cook, whisking frequently, until mixture is light brown, about the color of peanut butter, about 5 minutes. Whisk in apple cider in slow, steady stream; increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil, stirring occasionally; cover and set aside off heat.

2. Heat 1-tablespoon oil in 12-inch skillet over high heat until smoking, about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, dry pork chops with paper towels and sprinkle with 1/2-teaspoon pepper. Brown chops in single layer until deep golden on first side, about 3 minutes. Flip chops and cook until browned on second side, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer chops to large plate and set aside.

3. Reduce heat to medium and add 1 tablespoon oil, onions, apples, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and water to now-empty skillet. Using wooden spoon, scrape browned bits on pan bottom and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are softened and browned around the edges, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds longer. Return chops to skillet in single layer, covering chops with onions. Pour in warm sauce and any juices collected from pork; add bay leaves. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until pork is tender and paring knife inserted into chops meets very little resistance, about 30 minutes.

4. Transfer chops to warmed serving platter and tent with foil. Increase heat to medium-high and simmer sauce rapidly, stirring frequently, until thickened to gravy-like consistency, about 5 minutes. Discard bay leaves, stir in parsley, and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Cover chops with sauce, sprinkle with reserved bacon, and serve immediately.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Execution by Cannon

Execution by Cannon in Shiraz, Iran, Mid-Late 19th Century


Execution by cannon was a method of execution in which the victim was typically tied to the mouth of a cannon which was then fired. The prisoner is generally tied to a gun with the upper part of the small of his back resting against the muzzle. When the gun is fired, his head is seen to go straight up into the air some forty or fifty feet; the arms fly off right and left, high up in the air, and fall at, perhaps, a hundred yards distance; the legs drop to the ground beneath the muzzle of the gun; and the body is literally blown away altogether, not a vestige being seen.

Suppression of the Indian Revolt by the English,
 a painting by Vasily Vereshchagin c. 1884. 
Blowing from a gun (wiki) was a reported means of execution as long ago as the 16th century, by the Mughal Empire, and was used until the 20th century. The method was utilized by Portuguese colonialists in the 16th and 17th centuries, from as early as 1509 across their empire from Ceylon (modern day Sri Lanka) to Mozambique to Brazil. The Mughals used the method throughout the 17th century and into the 18th, particularly against rebels.

This method of execution is most closely associated with the colonial government of the British Raj. Following the Indian Rebellion of 1857 (wiki), "blowing from a gun" was a method the British used to execute rebels as well as for those natives found guilty of desertion. Using the methods previously practiced by the Mughals, the British began implementing blowing from guns in the latter half of the 18th century.

The destroying of the body and scattering the remains over a wide area had a particular religious function as a means of execution in the Indian subcontinent as it effectively prevented the necessary funeral rites of Muslims and Hindus. Thus, for believers the punishment was extended beyond death. This was well understood by foreign occupiers and the practice was not generally employed by them as concurrent foreign-occupiers of Africa, Australasia or the Americas.

Here's a brief BBC re-enactment:



At ExecutedToday, an account from the February 15, 1862 Harper’s Weekly of a very messy spectacle orchestrated to maintain British control of Punjab (scans of the original pages are here and here):
"The commanding officer directed port-fires to be lit. “Ready!” “Fire!” and the drama was played out. An eye-witness says: “The scene and stench were overpowering. I felt myself terribly convulsed, and could observe that the numerous native spectators were awe-stricken — that they not only trembled like aspen-leaves, but also changed into unnatural hues. Precaution was not taken to remove the sponge-and-load men from the muzzles of the guns; the consequence was that they were greatly bespattered with blood, and one man in particular received a stunning blow from a shivered arm!“
More at Strange History and vintage everyday.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Why is the sky blue? How do bees and butterflies see? How does an igloo keep you warm?

From Dr. Joe Hanson of It's OK To Be Smart's Youtube Channel:





Roundup of Mother's Day links

Grandmothers gave humans longer lifespans.

Notes on the History of Mother's Day: 5 Things Worth Knowing.

For your wino mom or wife on Mother's Day: FlaskScarf, tampon flasks, or the Wine Rack

Anna Jarvis invented Mother’s Day, then spent the rest of her life fighting against it.

The 8 Best Mothers In The Animal Kingdom, and the 15 worst.

Top 10 Mothers in Science Fiction and Fantasy.

A Biologist's Mother's Day Song: Slightly more than half of everything I am is thanks to you.

6 Unforgettable Movie Mothers and the Real Moms They Depicted.

Don't get along with your mom? This might help:

ICYMI, Wednesday's links are here, and include what happens to birds during a hurricane, early attempts to produce the flying car we were supposed to have by now, Amazon reviews left by scientists ("Fits neatly inside a lizard's cloaca."), and, for J. M. Barrie's birthday, the dark side of Peter Pan.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Wednesday links

James M. Barrie was born on May 9, 1860: here's the dark side of Peter Pan.

A tornado's low-frequency sounds could reveal where it'll strike.

What happens to birds during a hurricane?

Early attempts to produce the flying car we were supposed to have by now

Amish Commerce: Costco in Lancaster, PA has stalls reserved for horse and buggy parking.

"Fits neatly inside a lizard's cloaca": Scientists are leaving Amazon reviews, and it's amazing.

ICYMI, Tuesday's links are here, and include the physics of laundry, the poop-filled mites on your face, the Wild West's last stagecoach tavern, and the anniversary of V.E. Day, the day World War 2 ended in Europe.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Grandmothers gave humans longer lifespans

I've seen things along these lines before; they always warm the cockles of my grandmotherly heart*. Aside from the (invaluable, really) babysitting services, and the love, there's all that wisdom.  


Grandmother's Story by Hugues Merle
Help with childcare from grandmothers at an early stage of human history could have resulted in an evolutionary change which caused women to live long past the menopause, researchers said.

Female chimpanzees rarely live beyond their 30s or early 40s, when their fertility typically ends, but a computer simulation showed that the influence of grandmothers could extend their lifespan to human levels within 24,000 to 60,000 years.

A popular theory known as the "Grandmother Hypothesis" (wiki) suggests that older women had an evolutionary benefit by caring for their grandchildren after their childbearing years were over.

The new study, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B journal, backs up the theory by demonstrating that grandmothers alone, and not other factors like the development of larger brains, could result in women having longer lifespans.

Researchers suggested grandmothers may even have been responsible for increasing humans' brain size by allowing mothers to have larger families, which increased the pressure of natural selection on their children.

Most primates and mammals collect their own food after they have been weaned, but when African forests began to be replaced by dry savannah two million years ago, children were no longer able to forage for themselves.

The Grandmother Theory suggests that older women began performing childcare tasks such as cracking hard nuts or digging up tubers from the dry ground, which allowed their daughters to keep producing and caring for new babies.

This meant long-lived and healthy grandmothers could pass on their genes to more descendants, increasing the number of women who would survive beyond childbearing age.

via The Atlantic
Mathematicians simulated the impact of childcare from grandmothers on a society of animals which only lived for 25 years after reaching adulthood, similar to chimpanzees in the wild.

They found that thanks to "grandmothering" female chimps would evolve to live for 49 years as adults – a level similar to human hunter-gatherers – within the space of 24,000 to 60,000 years.

Prof Kristen Hawkes of the University of Utah, senior author of the study, said: "Grandmothering was the initial step towards making us who we are."

It resulted in "a whole array of social capacities that are the foundation for the evolution of other distinctly human traits, including pair bonding, bigger brains, learning new skills and our tendency for co-operation," she said.

For your wino mom or wife on Mother's Day: FlaskScarf, tampon flasks, or the Wine Rack

Check out the FlaskScarf for women; they come in a variety of colors and stripes and have a hidden bladder than can hold up to 8-ounces of booze (or whatever). When you're thirsty just suck on your scarf!













From the makers the FlaskTie for men:


If your mom isn't a scarf person, there's always the classic tampon flask (which comes in a set of five!) or the Wine Rack, which would, since it holds 25 ounces of liquid in it's bra-shaped bladder, probably have some make-mom-look-like-Dolly-Parton properties :



Slightly classier are these fake lotion containers, which are actually very highly rated:

Happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday links

It's V.E. Day: on May 8, 1945, World War 2 ended in Europe.


Just so you know, there are Poop-Filled Mites On Your Face Right Now.

The Last Stagecoach Tavern of the Wild Wild West.

Not a plot summary for a SyFy movie: Army researchers are developing a self-aware squid-like robot you can 3D print in the field.

ICYMI, Monday's links are here, and include how donuts are made, daggers made from human thigh bones, Neanderthals sea voyages, and illustrated manliness lessons: how to undress in 20 seconds or less (in case you need to rescue someone who's drowning) and the Tactical Order of Dressing (as taught to military and emergency personnel).

Monday, May 7, 2018

Just so you know, there are Poop-Filled Mites On Your Face Right Now

Right now, there are tiny mites eating, laying eggs, dying, and leaking feces on your face. They're not actually pooping, per se, because of the fact that they the lack anuses:
"They store all of their poop in their abdomens until the day they die, at which point they decompose and leak feces all over your face."
More at the video below, made by Gross Science:



Related:


Everything you never wanted to know about the mites that eat, crawl, and have sex on your face.


NatGeo has a gallery of extreme close-ups of mites.

By the way, you can buy a container of 1,000 live predatory mites here - makes a great gift!

The Dark Side of Peter Pan

When the first baby laughed for the first time, the laugh broke into a thousand pieces and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.

~ James Barrie, Peter Pan

Every time a child says, "I don't believe in fairies," there is a little fairy somewhere who falls down dead.

~ Id.

Fascinating story about James Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, over at Neatorama - read the whole thing. Some excerpts:

"All of James Barrie's life led up to the creation of Peter Pan," wrote one of his biographers. 

A pivotal point came in 1866 when Barrie, the youngest in a Scottish family of ten children, was six: his brother David, the pride of the family, died in a skating accident. Barrie's mother was devastated. To comfort her, little James began imitating David's mannerisms and mimicking his speech. This bizarre charade went on for years… and only got weirder: when James reached 13, the age at which David had died, he literally stopped growing. He never stood taller than 5', and didn't shave until he was 24. He always had a thin, high-pitched voice... 



In 1899, while still unhappily married, Barrie befriended young George, John, and Peter Davies and their mother, Sylvia, in London's Kensington Park. The boys' father, Arthur Davies, was too busy tending to his struggling career as a lawyer to spend much time with the family. So childless Barrie was only too happy to play with the Davies boys. He became a frequent caller at their home, and even rented a cottage nearby when they went on vacations in Surrey. 

Barrie idolized the children's beautiful mother. But it was with the children that he could truly be himself. He met with them daily in the park or at their home. They played Indians together, or pretended to be pirates, forcing each other to "walk the plank." Barrie made up stories for the boys, featuring talking birds and fairies, and acted them out.

Barrie always acknowledged that the Davies boys' free-spirited youth was the inspiration for Peter Pan. "I made Peter by rubbing the five of you together, as savages with two sticks produce a flame," he wrote on the dedication page of the printed version of the play. More than that, however, the Davies family - loving mother, impatient father, and adorable sons - served as Barrie's model for the Darlings in the play. He even used their names:

* Mr. Darling was named after the eldest boy, George Davies.

* Jack Davies became John Darling.

* Michael and Nicholas became Michael Nicholas Darling.

* Peter Davies' name went to Peter pan.

As for the author, he appears as Captain James Hook, whose right hand is gone. Barrie suffered paralysis of his right hand from tendonitis.

But this story has no happy ending. Arthur Davies died of cancer, which left Barrie and Sylvia free to marry. Barrie went so far as to give her an engagement ring, but then she, too, died of cancer. Suddenly Barrie was the legal guardian of five boys, ages 7 to 17. George, the eldest Davies child and Barrie's favorite, died in World War I in 1915. Michael drowned in a pool at Oxford while being taught to swim by a close friend; there were rumors of a suicide pact. John married and distanced himself from Barrie. Peter Davies committed suicide as an adult in an attempt to escape, some say, from forever being called "Peter Pan."

Much more in the Neatorama post, and for further reading, try this: J. M. Barrie and the Lost Boys: The Real Story Behind Peter Pan.

Monday links

Manliness lessons: how to undress in 20 seconds or less (in case you need to rescue someone who's drowning), plus, so you can always be battle-ready - the Tactical Order of Dressing: An Illustrated Guide (as taught to military and emergency personnel).

The Gambler Who Cracked the Horse-Racing Code - Bill Benter wrote an algorithm that couldn’t lose at the track. Close to a billion dollars later, he tells his story for the first time.

Treadmills Were Meant To Be Atonement Machines.


Human Thigh Bones Make The Best Bone Daggers, in Case You Were Wondering.

Neanderthals may have gone on sea voyages.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include Star Wars Day and International Respect for Chickens Day, the politics of the Louisiana Purchase, the Turkish roots of Swedish meatballs, strange cases of mass hysteria (including the mysterious dancing epidemic of 1518, and why we evolved to poop in the same place as our friends.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Check out the carving on this instrument - a medieval guitar later converted into a violin

From the British Museum's Twitter feed:

V.E. Day: on May 8, 1945, World War 2 ended in Europe

May 8th is the anniversary of V.E. Day (for "Victory in Europe") (wikiBBC) in 1945, which saw the German surrender and the end of World War II in the European theater
The beaten foe emerged.
Winston Churchill waves to crowds London on V-E Day.
All over the broad Atlantic, wherever they had been working or lying hid, the U-boats surfaced, confessing the war's end. A few of them, prompted by determination or struck by guilt, scuttled or destroyed themselves, or ran for shelter, not knowing that there was none; but mostly they did what they had been told to do, mostly they hoisted their black surrender flags, and stayed where they were, and waited for orders. 
They rose, dripping and silent, in the Irish Sea, and at the mouth of the Clyde, and off the Lizard in the English Channel, at the top of the Minches where the tides raced; they rose near Iceland, where Compass Rose was sunk and off the north-west tip of Ireland, and close to the Faeroes, and on the Gibraltar run where the sunk ships lay so thick, and near St. Johns and Halifax and in the deep of the Atlantic, with three thousand fathoms of water beneath their keel. 
They surfaced in secret places, betraying themselves and their frustrated plans: they rose within sight of land, they rose far away in mortal waters, where on the map of the battle, the crosses that were the sunken ships were etched so many and so close that the ink ran together. They surfaced above their handiwork, in hatred or in fear, sometimes snarling their continued rage, sometimes accepting thankfully a truce they had never offered to other ships, other sailors.
They rose, and lay wherever they were on the battlefield, waiting for the victors to claim their victory. 
~ Nicolas Monsarrat ("V.E. Day," from The Cruel Sea)

May 8th is the anniversary of V.E. Day (for "Victory in Europe") (wiki, BBC) in 1945, and commemorates the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany to the Allied forces, ending World War II in Europe.*

With Adolf Hitler dead by his own hand, German military leaders signed surrender documents at several locations in Europe on May 7, capitulating to each of their victorious foes. Germany’s partner in fascism, Italy, had switched sides in 1943, though many Italians continued to fight alongside their German comrades in Italy.

Upon entering the war in December 1941, the United States had agreed on a “Europe first” strategy: concentrate on defeating Germany, Italy and their satellites rather than focusing the bulk of men and resources on the war in the Pacific. V-E Day, therefore, marked a major milestone for the Allies but did not end the war, as Allied governments pointedly reminded their citizens. Attention turned to finishing the war against Imperial Japan. More here:
It's V-J Day, the anniversary of the date of Japan's surrender in 1945 and the end of WWII.
* N.B. It's referred to as "Victory Day" in Russia and is celebrated on May 9th.

People dance in the streets of London on VE Day, 8 May 1945
English novelist Nicolas Monsarrat (1910-1979) was born in Liverpool and earned a law degree at Cambridge. With the outbreak of World War II, he joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and served on the North Atlantic convoys for several years. This experience led to his crafting perhaps the most highly regarded novel about modern naval warfare yet written - The Cruel Sea - which appeared in 1951 while its author was serving as a British diplomat in South Africa. An equally esteemed motion picture, starring Jack Hawkins, was made of the book two years later, and it remains a classic today. Several other Monsarrat novels followed, but none ever gained the stature of The Cruel Sea.

Below is a generous theatrical trailer for The Cruel Sea, which actually shows some of the best bits.

Here's the Youtube description:
The novel The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monserrat was an unflinching portrayal of life at sea during WWII on a boat tasked with protecting convoys and seeking and destroying U-boats. A runaway success, the novel had already sold over 4 million copies in just 2 years when Ealing decided to make the film version. Filmed aboard an actual Royal Navy corvette, The Cruel Sea tells the story of the sailors aboard the HMS Compass Rose: the bonds that form between them, the daily pressures they face and their epic struggle to overcome the enemy. Nominated for a BAFTA for Best British Film, The Cruel Sea stars Jack Hawkins, Sir Donald Sinden and Stanley Clarke, and is a gripping insight into the lives of unsung heroes at sea during the war, and the agonizing decisions and incredible peril they faced on a daily basis.


And a brief documentary:



Related posts:

It's V-J Day, the anniversary of the date of Japan's surrender in 1945 and the end of WWII.

Churchill's "We shall fight on the beaches...we shall never surrender" speech: the evacuation of Dunkirk by a flotilla of small boats.

June 6 is D-Day: quotes, videos (footage, FDR's and Reagan's speeches), lots of links.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Manliness lessons: how to undress in 20 seconds or less, plus the tactical art of (re)dressing

From the blog of the excellent Art of Manliness: If attempting to save someone from drowning, it’s best to disrobe before you jump in, especially if they’re in open water, and a ways away. Clothes and shoes will only weigh you down, and make a difficult task much more difficult. The weight of your soaked garments may end up sinking the both of you. Of course every second matters when you’re trying to save someone, so you have to be able to undress with lightning speed.

The 1952 edition of the Handbook for Boys (the Boy Scout manual), admonishes young men to be able to strip down to their underpants or swim trunks in 20 seconds or less, holding up 15 seconds as the ultimate goal. The manual includes a diagram of how this can be accomplished, recreated here:


The original illustration lacked captions, but the sequence seems to go like this:
  1. Remove coat while removing your shoes.
  2. Slip your shirt off your shoulders as you step out of your pants.
  3. Remove your arms from the sleeves of the shirt. (It’s hard to tell from the original illustration, but the figure may be re-buttoning one of the buttons on his shirt here, perhaps to turn it into a more effective towing device.)
  4. Peel off your socks as you clamp your shirt between your teeth.
  5. Jump into the water.
  6. Extend your shirt to the victim to hold onto. Even when you get into the water with the victim, it’s best to have them hold onto something and tow them ashore, rather than getting close enough to get clawed, grabbed, and/or kicked. If you don’t have something to extend to him or her, swim behind them, and wrap your arm around their chest, keeping their head above water. Swim ashore.
  7. Throughout every step, you should keep your eyes on the victim, so you don’t lose track of where they are, and know if they slip underwater.
Then there's the tactical order of dressing:


If you were suddenly awoken in the middle of the night and needed to go outside to fight off a threat or evacuate from your home, in what order would you don your clothes?

David Guttenfelder. AP
First you pull on your pants, because you’re going to need something to protect your lower body from brush, debris, hot shell casings, and what have you. Then you’ll put on your boots. If you’re not going far, you might be able to get by in barefeet, but you’ll need to be shod if you’ll be moving out over rough terrain. 

Of course, if a threat is truly imminent, you may need to face it down in whatever it is you wore (or didn’t wear) to bed. Like this soldier in Afghanistan who was roused from sleep by enemy fire on his post in eastern Afghanistan, and took on the enemy in his pink “I Love New York” boxers.

More at the Art of Manliness blog.

Related posts:

Because it's important to always be battle-ready: How to Poop Like a Samurai.

Friday, May 4, 2018

How Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Are Made

This video is a donut commercial featuring lots of awesome food machines: watch how Krispy Kreme donuts are made at one of their factories. 

A secret flour recipe, a machine that makes torus-shaped dough, lots of donut-sized elevator shelves, flipping, frying, and glazing, and it’s all set to Swan Lake, Op. 20: IV. Allegro moderato


Friday links

In addition to International Respect for Chickens Day, May the Fourth (be with you) is also Star Wars Day. Here's a nice collection of Star Wars propaganda posters.

Strange cases of mass hysteria. The one that's always fascinated me is the mysterious dancing epidemic of 1518.


What Are The Odds Of Getting Bit By Both A Bear And A Shark? It happened to some guy, and a statistician explains how the odds are calculated. Kind of related: Defensive Gun Use and the Difficult Statistics of Rare Events.

Why would we evolve to poop in the same place as our friends?

The Turkish Roots of Swedish Meatballs.

The Longest Route You Can Sail in a Straight Line Without Hitting Land.

ICYMI, Tuesday's links are here, and include the world's oldest crayon, a history of tug-of-war fatalities, the Duke of Wellington's birthday, and a WW1 plan to turn America's trees into telephones.