Sunday, 22 July 2012

10 stories and links I found educative, interesting or simply weird!

Islands of exile
via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz
 Wikipedia Commons 0 08 Marg2
Alcatraz may be the most infamous prison island (unless you count Australia… OK, I’m kidding!), but it’s hardly the only one. Smithsonian lists ten “islands of exile”, some of which were true penal colonies while others were just unfortunate destinations for banished individuals. Included are the likes of Patmos, Greece, Robinson Crusoe Island, Chile, and Robben Island, South Africa.
From Smithsonian:
Île Sainte-Marguerite, France Just off the coast of Cannes in the Mediterranean Sea, the small, forested island of Sainte-Marguerite – about two miles long and a half-mile wide – was home to one of history’s most enigmatic prisoners. The convict, whose identity was concealed behind what was most likely a black velvet mask, was brought to the island in 1687, during the reign of Louis XIV, and locked up in the Royal Fort, then a state prison. (His barren cell can still be seen.) Later, he was moved to the Bastille, where he died in 1703 at around age 45.
The prisoner’s identity and the reason for his incarceration are still not known. But over the centuries, they have been the subjects of much speculation. One popular theory, that he was an older brother of Louis XIV, became the basis for Alexander Dumas’ classic tale The Man in the Iron Mask.
Ten Infamous Islands of Exile

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Maureen Tkacik has a theory: The Atlantic is a “turgid mouthpiece for the plutocracy” and a “repository of shallow, lazy spin”. But a CIA front? Really?... more

8 Of The Funniest BBC Comedies Of All Time
via MakeUseOf by Tim Brookes
British comedy is typified by dry wit, slapstick visuals and strong comic actors. BBC comedy should, in theory, take the best of what is already a strong bunch and highlight the very best – and that’s what I’ve tried to do here. I can’t help but apply a personal spin to these articles, and these are the shows I personally remember splitting my sides while I was growing up. Comedy doesn’t always age particularly gracefully, but all of these shows can still have me in fits of laughter to this day. Tim’s choices:
  • Blackadder
  • Red Dwarf
  • Fawlty Towers
  • One Foot In The Grave
  • The Office
  • The Thick Of It
  • Only Fools and Horses
  • I’m Alan Partridge
You can see clips from all the above here.

Watching BBC Comedy Online If you’re interested in watching some of these shows then you might want to consider subscribing to the BBC’s paid iPlayer service which is currently available in: France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Australia and Canada. Visit: BBC Worldwide iPlayer Home
Of course, if you live in the UK (and pay the licence fee) you can watch BBC iPlayer for free.
This list has been kept rather orthodox and I’ve stuck to the mainstays. However if you’re willing to delve a little deeper into the BBC’s back catalogue then you’ll find shows like Nighty Night, Monkey Dust and Time Trumpet amongst classics like Are You Being Served? and Some Mothers Do ’Ave ’Em. If you’ve enjoyed this list then don’t forget to add your favourite BBC comedies to the comments, below.
And you can view 43 comments at the link above.

Sword Fighting Manual c.1500
via Retronaut by Chris
Try this move at your peril!

It has less to do with sword fighting and more to do with using a sword as a club!
See the rest of Chris’s selection here including one which looks as though the sword is there merely to divert your opponent from the fact that you are about to kick him somewhere very painful.
Source: State Library of Berlin via La Boite Verte

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Intoxication is making a comeback. Ecstasy and LSD treat PTSD. Pot shrinks tumors. Mushrooms relieve depression. Why the change?... more

Are Strict Bans on Tobacco Really the Best Way to Reduce Smoking?
via Big Think by Orion Jones
Article written by guest writer Rin Mitchell
According to reports, the World Health Organization and its Framework Convention on Tobacco Control have pressured countries around the world to “denormalize” tobacco use and to punish the tobacco industry.
Read More

The crayola-fication of the world: How we gave colors names, and it messed with our brains
via Empirical Zeal by aatish
In two parts, both of which are far too long to include here! Part 1 starts with a quote
Who in the rainbow can draw the line where the violet tint ends and the orange tint begins? Distinctly we see the difference of the colors, but where exactly does the one first blendingly enter into the other? So with sanity and insanity.
Herman Melville, Billy Budd
and you can read the rest here

Part 2 has more pictures starting with

Untitled (Cubes) by Scott Taylor
Fascinating stuff, with proper references to academic work on the subject.

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
The swaggering, gnomic Hemingway of lore is due for a reappraisal. Papa’s prose was best before it congealed into biblically stylized patter... more

5 Big Moments in the History of Knowledge Transfer
via Big Think by Jason Gots
There are basically three kinds of knowledge humans can share with one another: news, concepts, and skills. Most of our early advances in communication technology focused on sharing news over a distance – a good place to start, as it was helpful in avoiding death.
Read More

USB 2.0 Nano Drive almost needs a magnifying glass to be found
via The Red Ferret Journal by caitlyn
USB NANO Drive USB 2.0 Nano Drive almost needs a magnifying glass to be found
It’s not difficult to lose a flash drive as they’re not exactly the biggest things in the world.
More info

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