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Friday, August 24, 2018

Friday links

It's St. Bartholomew's Day - some history (including the massacre), a brief documentary, and Monty Python.

What Mathematics Has to Do With The Seven Bridges of Königsberg

U.S. Senate Monorail - A Private Subway System for Senators Under Washington D.C. Since 1909.

In the 1960s, the U.S. Government Set Off a Pair of Nukes Under Mississippi.

What could go wrong? Crocodiles have learned to use tools.

ICYMI, Tuesday's links are here, and include why smartphone screens are three times dirtier than a toilet seat, Dorothy Parker's birthday (including the weird journey of her ashes), the etymology of 'orange', the history of U. S. dollar bill design changes, and an eye-searing set of awkward Russian glamour photos.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Supercut of Improbable Weapons

As cool as any of these were in the original movies, aggregating them is even better:

Weapon and film list (in order of appearance):

Ladder - First Strike
Melons - Transporter 2
Umbrella - Kingsman
Afro Picks - Undercover Brother
Ship - Pacific Rim
Shirt - Transporter
Tea Cup - Chronicles of Riddick
Guitar Case - Desperado
Trash Can - First Strike
Ballpoint Pen - The Bourne Identity
Gopher-Chuks - Kung Pow: Enter The Fist
Credit Card - The Glimmer Man
Guitar - Once Upon a Time in Mexico
Record - Shaun of the Dead
Limo Antenna - Crocodile Dundee
Banjo - Zombieland
Hairspray + Cigar - Live and Let Die
Guitar Case #2 - Once Upon a Time in Mexico
Bowler Hat - Goldfinger
Toothbrush - Oldboy
Calligraphy Brushes - The Magnificent Butcher
Forks - Mystery Men
Carrot - Shoot ‘Em Up
Belt - Pootie Tang
Magazine - The Bourne Supremacy
Chair - Thunderball
Bike Pedals - Transporter
Toilet Cover - Zombieland
Fire Hose - Transporter 2

Happy St. Bartholomew's Day - some history, a brief documentary, and Monty Python

If St. Bartholomew's Day be fair and clear,
Then a prosperous autumn comes this year.

St. Bartlemy's mantle wipes dry
All the tears that St. Swithin can cry.*

~ Traditional English proverb

Michelangelo's painting of The Last Judgment on the
end wall of the Vatican's Sistine Chapel, where Bartholomew is depicted below and to the right of Christ. The face on the discarded skin of the saint has long been accepted as a self-portrait of the artist. Note the flaying knife in Bartholomew's right hand.
August 24th is the feast day of St. Bartholomew (wiki), who is mentioned in three of the Gospels as an apostle and may be the Nathanael of John 1:45-51 and 21:2. According to tradition, he was flayed alive and then beheaded in Armenia and thus is often portrayed with a large knife and occasionally his own skin flung over his arm. 

For obvious reasons, Bartholomew is the patron saint of tanners; it is less obvious why he is also the patron saint of plasterers and cheese merchants**. From 1133 to 1752, London's great Smithfield fair began on this day and was also known as St. Bartholomew's Fair partly because of its proximity to the ancient hospital of that name. 

It's also the anniversary of the St. Bartholomew's Night Massacre (wiki) in 1572, when French king Charles IX - urged on by the dowager queen, Catherine di Medici, ordered the slaughter of Huguenots throughout France on the saint's feast day. 

An Eyewitness Account of the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre
 by François Dubois
The massacre was timed to coincide with the wedding of Henry of Navarre (later Henry IV) in Paris, which attracted many prominent French Protestants to the capital. Admiral Gaspard de Chatillon, Comte de Coligny (1519-1572) was the first to die, followed by 2,000 more victims in Paris and perhaps 10,000 in all of France (although accounts differ). 

When the news reached Rome, Pope Gregory XIII ordered a Te Deum and had all the city's church bells rung in thanksgiving. The St. Bartholomew's massacre became a major cause celebre among European Protestants and in France re-ignited the Wars of Religion, which lasted until 1598. 

* N.B. The reference here is to the traditional belief that if it rains on St. Swithin's Day - 15 July - 40 more days of rain will follow. 

Brief documentary on the massacre:

** Here's the "blessed are the cheesemakers" clip from Monty Python's Life Of Brian:

Parts of the text above are adapted from Ed's Quotation of the Day, only available via email - leave your email address in the comments if you'd like to be added to his list. Ed is the author of Hunters and Killers: Volume 1: Anti-Submarine Warfare from 1776 to 1943 and Hunters and Killers: Volume 2: Anti-Submarine Warfare from 1943.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Amazon item of the day: a Naked Lactating Incense Burner

For the person who has everything, a naked giant-breasted lactating ceramic incense burner:
There's also an upright variation:

Or. in case these aren't weird enough, you can get the mermaid version:

If you buy one of these for your wife, girlfriend, or mother (or anyone, really), please report back and share their reactions.

Tuesday links

Dorothy Parker's birthday: quotes, poems, a brief bio, and the weird journey of her ashes.

The etymology of 'orange': Which came first, the color or the fruit?

History of Money Design: How Did American Dollar Bills Change?

These awkward Russian glamour photos are a hoot.

Smartphone screens found to be more than three times dirtier than a toilet seat.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include the histories of 1. macaroni and cheese, and 2. posthumous executions, the anniversary of the death of climate change hero Genghis Khan, Steve Jobs illegitimate daughter, and Davy Crockett's birthday.