Tuesday, 16 August 2016

10 more fascinating items for you to enjoy (should have been posted on 9 April)

C Is for Cthulhu: The Lovecraft Alphabet Book
via Boing Boing by Jason Weisberger

Let Shub-Niggurath teach your child the alphabet with C Is for Cthulhu: The Lovecraft Alphabet Book
I wish we had this book when my daughter was younger. Things would be much different!
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Are God and chance compatible?
via OUP Blog by David Bartholomew
Science and Religion
It has long been the unquestioned assumption of many religious believers that the God who created the world also acts in it. Until recent scientific discoveries, few challenged the idea of how exactly God interacts with the world. With the introduction of Newtonian science and quantum theory, we now know much more about how the world works, and the mode of God’s action has become a serious question for believers.
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Trees Prove That Life Isn't Just about Survival of the Fittest
via Big Think by Jag Bhalla
Article Image
Illustration by Julia Suits
1. A lone tree does not live as long. That fact could shift views of how the whole tree of life works.
2. Trees are social, reveals Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees, they “talk” and share.
3. For instance, trees warn one another of insect attacks (scents) and exchange signals via roots.
4. More amazingly, trees operate "gigantic redistribution systems.” In their “social security” system "nutrient exchange and helping neighbors… is the rule.”
5. Vast underground fungal networks (a “wood wide web” interweaving the roots of many species) enables trees with an "abundance of sugar" to help those "running short."
6. These fungal networks can tax “up to a third of” a tree’s total food production. (A “humongous fungus” is the world’s largest living thing ~2.4 miles).
7. So much for Richard Dawkins' claim that “there is no welfare state in nature.”
8. “Forests are superorganisms" (and "isolated trees have far shorter lives")
9. As microbiome research has shown “symbiosis isn’t rare. It’s the rule.” All natural animals and plants use collaboration.
10. The "red in tooth and claw" view of biology needs to be updated, says David G. Haskell in The Forest Unseen. Nature’s “economy has as many trade unions as robber barons.”
11. The idea that biology is dominated by individual genomes ruthlessly competing is turning out to be “pleasant fiction” (Ed Yong).
12. A gene’s survival “vehicle” (the genes that every selfish gene must cooperate with to survive) typically extends beyond its body. Those survival vehicles can include its herd, or in our “by nature self-deficient” case, our “teammates”.
Continue reading because although I've included the whole of the text there are lots of links to further information.

Watch The New York Public Library’s adorable book train go to work
via Boing Boing by Caroline Siede
The New York Public Library shared a video of its brand new book train on Tumblr under the hashtag “library fun”. Be sure to watch with sound on.
You can watch it here too

King John and recordkeeping
via The National Archives Blog by Dr Jessica Nelson
‘King John was not a good man’; so said A.A.Milne in a collection of poetry aimed at six year olds – and so generations of children have learnt this basic ‘fact’ about King John almost before they were old enough to go to school.
A.A. Milne was following in a long line of critics of the Angevin king. As far back as the 1230s, the chronicler Matthew Paris wrote, ‘Foul as Hell is, it is made fouler by the presence of King John’.
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A Nazi, a Fascist, a Communist, a Novelist, a Countrywoman, a Duchess – All Mitford Sisters
via Arts & Letters Daily: Tina Brown in New York Times Book Review

The Mitford sisters (and, second from left, brother) in Oxfordshire, 1935.CreditThe Illustrated London News Picture Library, London, UK, via Bridgeman Images
Oh no! Not another book about the Mitfords! That was my instant reaction when Laura Thompson’s “The Six,” a group biography of the notorious sisters, all half-dozen of them, landed on my desk. …
How wrong I was. “The Six” is riveting. It captures all the wayward magnetism and levity that have enchanted countless writers without neglecting the tragic darkness of many of the sisters’ life ­choices and the savage sociopolitical currents that fuelled them.
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What do we talk about when we talk about ‘religion’?
via OUP Blog by Arie L. Molendijk
Let us start at the Vatican in Rome. St. Peter’s Basilica has a strict dress code: no skirts above the knee, no shorts, no bare shoulders, and you must wear shoes. At the entrance there are signs picturing these instructions. To some visitors this comes somewhat as a surprise. Becky Haskin, age 44, from Fort Worth, Texas, said: “The information we got was that the dress code only applied when the pope was there.” Blocked on her first attempt, she bought a pair of paper pants and a shawl. “It was worth it,” she commented. Other special places are marked in a similar way. When visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., you will see signs like “no smoking, no food or drink, no bikes, no running.”Apparently, it cannot be taken for granted that visitors know how to behave in such spaces. Their special character is marked by prohibition signs.
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How To Deal With Our Emotions
via 3 Quarks Daily by Max Sirak
You are not a Vulcan.
You are a human. You have a mind capable of logic and rational thought. You also possess a body that feels. Emotions are as principle to you and your being as your eyes, your hands, your feet, or your skin.
And, try as we might or think as we do – that life would be better, easier if we didn't have all these gooey feelings gumming up our insides – we do. So, since emotions seem to be a fundamental aspect of us, I thought now might be a good time to learn a bit more about them.
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Methamphetamine Was the Secret to Hitler's Blitzkrieg Successes
via Big Think by Philip Perry
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Hitler’s charisma, demagoguery, and ability to mobilize Germany behind him have been much written about and discussed. His failed attempt to fight a war on two fronts, and making the same mistake as Napoleon—invading Russia, have also been topics exhausted by scholars and armchair historians alike. But new revelations, such as the fact that the Fuhrer had a micropenis, are changing completely how we view the Second World War.
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Pristine pressed flower among 'jaw-dropping' bronze age finds
Ritual offerings unearthed at Lancashire site discovered by metal detectorist include weapons, jewellery and ornaments
via The Guardian by Dalya Alberge
Preserved bronze age thistle flower discovered in Lancashire
The preserved thistle flower is believed to be about 3,000 years old. Photograph: Dalya Alberge
A 3,000-year-old complete pressed flower is among the “absolutely jaw-dropping” late bronze age finds unearthed in Lancashire.
The thistle flower appears to have been deliberately placed inside the hollow end of an axe handle and buried with other weapons, jewellery and ornaments, many in virtually pristine condition. Other axe handles in the hoard had been filled with hazelnuts, as part of a ritual offering.
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