Friday, 28 December 2012

On the fourth day of Christmas

Hazel sent to you…

yet another bunch of the bizarre and the ridiculous stories that she thought might interest you (but just because today is Friday do NOT expect another one this afternoon to start the weekend)!

1938 : ‘Oh Fred! The baby has swallowed the matches!’
via Retronaut by Chris Wild

More images here

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Keats was firm about what makes great literature. A poet must dwell in uncertainty, he said, “without any irritable reaching after fact and reason”... more

Seals: Graceful underwater, adorably useless on land
via Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker

Underwater, Antarctica's Weddell seals are fast-moving, graceful predators, catching and eating as much as 100 pounds of food per day. They dine on squids and fish and have been known to enjoy the occasional penguin or two.
On land, they are hilariously ineffectual blobs of jelly.
You can see that dichotomy in action in this great (and long) video made by Henry Kaiser in Antarctica. Following the adventures of a baby seal on the ice and under the water, the video is peaceful, meditative and reminds me a bit of the sort of old-school Sesame Street video that would build simple, kid-friendly narratives out of nature footage and music. (The music, by the way, was written and performed by Henry Kaiser, as well.)
Despite their poor performance in land-based locomotion, Weddell seals actually live on the ice, descending into the water to hunt and mate and swim around. They use natural holes in the ice to get from above to below and back, but they also work to maintain those holes and often use their teeth to chew at the edge of the ice and make a small hole larger. At about 13 minutes into the video, you can watch a seal doing just that — rubbing its head back and forth to enlarge an opening in the ice.
And why hang out on the ice, to begin with? Simple. In the water, seals are, themselves, potential dinners for larger creatures. On land, they have no natural predators at all and can safely bask in the sun, lying on their cute and chubby bellies for so long that their body heat hollows out divots in the ice.

50 beautiful box sets
via Pages & Proofs by Richard Davies

Above you can see The Golden Hours Library box set from 1967 – this lovely 12-volume set of children’s literature is showcased in our box sets feature [Warning: Bibliophiles will be wanting to collect one or more of these beautiful sets], which also includes sets from Roald Dahl, Bill Watterson, Charles Dickens and Toni Morrison.

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Humboldtian science took shape on a trek around South America, where he faced off a jaguar. At that moment, he reported, reason was useless... more

Plastic waste transformed into floating islands to help restore African lake’s ecosystem
via The Red Ferret Journal by Debra Atlas
Plastic waste transformed into floating islands to help restore African lakes ecosystem
Even as more plastic waste accumulates in our oceans, creative minds are devising innovative ways to reuse post-consumer plastic to help our environment. Such is the case of the German REWE Group which plans to create plastic floating islands planted with papyrus, then use them to help rebuild the ecosystem of Africa’s Lake Naivasha.
Continue reading here

The 10 Greatest Historical Literary Cameos on Time-Traveling TV Shows
via Flavorwire by Matthew Bower
Time travel inevitably gets a sizable mention during an old-fashioned game of “Name That TV Trope”. There’s seemingly an endless supply – everything from screwed-up timelines that incorporate fictional elements to the unsettling discovery that you’re your own grandfather (see Futurama). But, bibliophiles that we are, one of our favourite silly pseudo-historical plot devices is when a famous dead author is revived in fictionalised form.
Take a look at some of the most memorable time-travelling literary cameos from our favourite TV shows.
Can you think of more?

William Shakespeare in Blackadder, “Back and Forth”
Shakespeare gets fictionalised often enough. But seldom is he played by Colin Firth, and even more seldom is he vengefully beaten for Kenneth Branagh’s four-hour-long Hamlet adaptation. Though the half-hour “Back and Forth” special was technically a film release, it’s a time-travelling reunion staple of the Blackadder series.

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Sure, the French Foreign Legion is about honour, bravery, adventure, endurance. But really, it’s about simplifying men’s lives... more

Marvels, mystery and the chilling world of the Nursery Rhyme – Dianne Hofmeyr
via An Awfully Big Blog Adventure by Dianne Hofmeyr
“Marvels mix with the day-to-day and banality meets mystery in the nursery rhyme” says Marina Warner, short story writer, historian and mythographer, known for her books on feminism and myth.
You need to read this for yourself – some of it is decidedly not nice!

Demon Hill. The Most Dramatic Evidence You’ll Ever See About the Limits of Human Rationality
via Big Think by David Ropeik
So you think you’re pretty smart, huh?
Able to think critically, to reason, to weigh all the evidence and come up with the right answer and know what’s true.
HAH, I say!
Such hubris flies in the face of overwhelming evidence that the brain is only the organ with which we think we think.
Want a really clear bit of evidence that reason and rationality will only carry us so far?
Continue reading

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