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Friday, January 26, 2018

Friday links



What's the best animal to slice open and crawl inside to stay warm?

A bit of history for Australia Day.

The (proposed) 38 States of America


ICYMI, Thursday's links are here, and include 18th Century cudgelling matches, Scots, the birthday of Scotland's "prince of poets" Robert Burns, an airship disaster worse than the Hindenburg (the USS Akron), and video of a dog intimidating a pair of much larger lions.

On January 27, 1945, the Soviet Army liberated Auschwitz

On this date (January 27) in 1945, the Soviet Army liberated Auschwitz (wiki). Below are two documentaries (one short, one full length) and links to a few articles. Do the world a favor and educate your kids and grandkids about this - the schools don't do much with it anymore.

Auschwitz, also known as Auschwitz-Birkenau, opened in 1940 and was the largest of the Nazi concentration and death camps (wiki). Located in southern Poland, Auschwitz initially served as a detention center for political prisoners. However, it evolved into a network of camps where Jewish people and other perceived enemies of the Nazi state were exterminated, often in gas chambers, or used as slave labor. Some prisoners were also subjected to barbaric medical experiments led by Josef Mengele (1911-79). During World War II (1939-45), more than 1 million people, by some accounts, lost their lives at Auschwitz. In January 1945, with the Soviet army approaching, Nazi officials ordered the camp abandoned and sent an estimated 60,000 prisoners on a forced march to other locations. When the Soviets entered Auschwitz, they found thousands of emaciated detainees and piles of corpses left behind.

How do you describe the sorting out on arriving at Auschwitz, the separation of children who see a father or mother going away, never to be seen again? How do you express the dumb grief of a little girl and the endless lines of women, children, and rabbis being driven across the Polish or Ukrainian landscapes to their deaths? No, I can't do it. And because I'm a writer and a teacher, I don't understand how Europe's most cultured nation could have done that. For these men who killed with submachine-guns in the Ukraine were university graduates. Afterwards they would go home and read a poem by Heine. So what happened?

~  Elie Wiesel (wiki) (b. 1928) (quoted in Le Monde, Paris, 4 June 1987)

Further reading:

I highly recommend the 2015 KL: A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps (KL is the Nazi abbreviation of Konzentrationslager, or concentration camp) by Nikolaus Wachsmann.

For an exhaustive and comprehensive account of the Third Reich that explores in depth the questions raised by Elie Wiesel above, read Richard J. Evans' masterful three-volume history, completed in 2009 with The Third Reich at War

Disturbing content warning for these videos:

A short documentary about the liberation:


CONTENT WARNING: This longer (21 minute) documentary
"contains all of the film footage of Auschwitz which was filmed by Soviet camermen between January 27 and February 28, 1945, shortly after the camp was liberated.
In the interest of preserving the original character of the material, even the most shocking pictures have been left unedited, and neither sound nor music has been added."


Related posts and links:

Tales from Auschwitz: survivor stories

Powerful Portraits Of Auschwitz Survivors Mark Anniversary Of Their Liberation.

Auschwitz Survivor Gena Turgel Walked Out of Gas Chamber Alive.

Spielberg highlights anniversary of Auschwitz liberation.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Advice from ancient Greece: Need Your Livestock to Breed? Reach for the Spice Cabinet

Some animal husbandry advice from the ancient Greeks - you need to know which spices to rub on the genitals of your livestock to get them in the mood:

Aelian, Nature of the Animals  9.48
“Guardians who want the reproduction of their animals to increase when it is time to mate take handfuls of salt and sodium carbonate and rub them on the genitals of female sheep, and goats and horses. From these [animals] get more eager for sex. Others rub them down with pepper and honey; and others with sodium carbonate and nettle-seed. Some even rub them down with myrrh. From this kind of stimulation the females lose control and go crazy for the males.”
  1. ‘Υπὲρ τοῦ πλείονα τὴν ἐπιγονὴν τῶν ζῴων σφίσι γίνεσθαι οἱ τούτων μελεδωνοὶ τὰ ἄρθρα τῶν θηλειῶν καὶ οἰῶν καὶ αἰγῶν καὶ ἵππων ἀνατρίβουσι κατὰ τὸν τῆς ὀχείας καιρὸν ἁλῶν καὶ λίτρουτὰς χεῖρας ἀναπλήσαντες. ἐκ τούτων ὄρεξις αὐτοῖς γίνεται περὶ τὴν ἀφροδίτην μᾶλλον. ἕτεροι δὲ πεπέριδι καὶ μέλιτι τὰ αὐτὰ χρίουσι, λίτρῳ δὲ ἄλλοι καὶ κνίδης καρπῷ· σμυρνίῳ δὲ ἤδη τινὲς ἔχρισαν καὶ λίτρῳ. ἐκ δὴ τοῦδε τοῦ ὀδαξησμοῦ ἀκράτορες ἑαυτῶν γίνονται αἱ θήλειαι ποῖμναι, καὶ ἐπιμαίνονται τοῖς ἄρρεσιν.
via SENTENTIAE ANTIQUAE

January 26 is Australia Day

We're built, as a nation, on the grounds of a concentration camp. It's like saying, "OK, here's Auschwitz. Here's where we'll start our country.

~ Peter Carey (b.1943) (of Australia, City Limits, London, 1 April 1988) 

An interesting change of heart: 

I have been disappointed in all my experiences of Australia, except as to its wickedness; for it is far more wicked than I have conceived it possible for any place to be, or than it is possible for me to describe to you in England. 

~ Henry Parkes (wiki) (1815-1896) (letter, 1 May 1840, later published in An Emigrant's Home Letters

With our splendid harbor, our beautifully situated city, our vast territories, all our varied and inexhaustible natural wealth, if we don't convert our colony into a great and prosperous nation, it will be a miracle of error for which we shall have to answer as for a gigantic sin. 

~ Parkes* (speech, Melbourne, 16 March 1867) 

In the weltering hell of the Moorooroo plain 
The Yatala Wangary withers and dies,
And the Worrow Wanilla, demented with pain,
To the Woolgoolga woodlands despairingly flies ...

Mark Twain (1835-1910) (Following the Equator, Ch. 36, "A Sweltering Din - Australia", stanza. 7**) 

Governor Arthur Phillip hoists the British flag
over the new colony at Sydney in 1788.
Today is Australia Day (wiki), the anniversary of the date in 1788 when Captain Arthur Phillip led a fleet of convict ships into Sydney Cove and initiated the establishment of New South Wales, Australia, as a penal colony.*** By the mid-19th century, free immigration had replaced the transportation of convicts in populating the country, and a half dozen other colonies were established there, leading to a final federation as the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901. British involvement in Australian affairs was formally abolished in 1986, and in many ways, the modern nation more resembles the United States than any other in the world. 

* N.B. Australian statesman Henry Parkes was instrumental in welding the independent colonies of that sub-continent into a single nation. 

** Twain's poem, of which this is only one of about ten stanzas, was written in 1897 and is based entirely on real Australian place names. 

*** It was the independence of the United States that forced the English to find an alternative destination for the "transportation" of criminals. 

Here's a brief video on Australia Day:


Australia's well-known, but unofficial, national song: 


Related post:

April 25th is ANZAC Day - the Battle of Gallipoli was 100 years ago

Thursday links

Scots, wha hae - Happy Burns Day! Here's a bio of Scotland's "prince of poets" Robert Burns, plus Braveheart, Burns Supper instructions,and lots of haggis.

Incredible 'Hypatia' Stone Contains Compounds Not Found in the Solar System.

The USS Akron plunges into the ocean: an airship disaster worse than the Hindenburg tragedy.

Dog vs cats video du jour - watch this dog intimidate a pair of much larger lions.

18th Century Cudgelling Matches.

The 10th President of the United States, John Tyler, who was born in 1790, has two living grandsons.

ICYMI, Monday's links are here, and include why all the actors from Hollywood’s Golden Age have such a distinct and strange accent, an animated map of the changing borders and population of Europe by year since 400 BC, two new Van Gogh drawings, and why your car company may know more about you than your spouse.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

1.7-billion-year-old chunk of North America found sticking to Australia

For geology buffs, this bit of history on the formation of the continents from Live Science:
Geologists matching rocks from opposite sides of the globe have found that part of Australia was once attached to North America 1.7 billion years ago.
Researchers from Curtin University in Australia examined rocks from the Georgetown region of northern Queensland. The rocks — sandstone sedimentary rocks that formed in a shallow sea — had signatures that were unknown in Australia but strongly resembled rocks that can be seen in present-day Canada.
The researchers, who described their findings online Jan. 17 in the journal Geology, concluded that the Georgetown area broke away from North America 1.7 billion years ago. Then, 100 million years later, this landmass collided with what is now northern Australia, at the Mount Isa region
Zoomable image here.

This diagram shows the Georgetown terrane, in green, joining Australia around 1.6 billion years ago during the
 formation of the supercontinent Nuna. (CreditZoomable image here.
Via Fox News.

Cartoon: Folsom Prism Blues

A bit of physics humor, via Analytical Grammar:

Dog vs cats video du jour - watch this dog intimidate a couple of much larger lions

Taking the dogs vs cats rivalry to a new level:

Monday, January 22, 2018

Monday links

Animated map of the changing borders and population of Europe: every year since 400 BC.

Why all the actors from Hollywood’s Golden Age have such a distinct and strange accent.


Wave tank demonstration showing the impact of coastal defenses on flood risk.


Big Brother on wheels: Why your car company may know more about you than your spouse.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include weird vintage beauty hacks, the birthdays of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Stonewall Jackson (including the story of his left arm's separate grave), how apple pie became "American", and the anniversary of  French King Louis XVI's guillotining.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Animated map of the changing borders and population of Europe: every year since 400 BC

Animated European history - this video shows the borders and populations of each country in Europe, for every year since 400 BC. Vassal states and colonies are not included in the count of a country's population.

Watch full screen.


Sources : 1. Population :
- Angus Maddison (2003), Historical Statistic for the World Economy
- Colin McEvedy & Richard Jones (1978), Atlas of World Population History
- Tacitus.nu
2. Borders
- EmperorTigerstar - The History of Europe: Every Year
- EmperorTigerstar - The History of the Middle East: Every Year
- Ollie Bye - The History of Africa: Every Year
3. Music
- mrgice3 - Gladiator - The Battle Super Theme Song