Sunday, 19 March 2017

Sunday's offering of trivial items for your delectation

Woolly mammoths’ demise blamed on freshwater shortage
via The Guardian by Nicola Davis
A model of a woolly mammoth
A model of a woolly mammoth. Researchers say they have solved the mystery of what killed a small group of the creatures. Photograph: Andrew Nelmerm/Getty Images/Dorling Kindersley
One of the last known populations of woolly mammoths was wiped out 5,600 years ago by a lack of freshwater, research suggests.
Woolly mammoths became extinct in North America and mainland Asia around 10,000 years ago, but a small number survived on islands lying between Siberia and Alaska which, before sea-level rises, were part of the Bering Land Bridge.
Continue reading

Richmond: the lost palace
via The National Archive Blog by Marcus Goringe
As a lifelong resident of Richmond I have been surrounded by the remnants of a lost palace, hidden in almost plain sight, but like most others never given it more than a passing thought.
Since starting work at The National Archive ten weeks ago I have found myself drawn to the history of Richmond Palace and its importance over the last 900 years: where did this palace go and what happened there?
Continue reading

There Is No Scientific Method
via 3 Quarks Daily: James Blachowicz in the New York Times

A reproduction of Kepler’s illustration to explain his discovery of the elliptical orbit of Mars. CreditUniversal History Archive/Getty Images
In 1970, I had the chance to attend a lecture by Stephen Spender. He described in some detail the stages through which he would pass in crafting a poem. He jotted on a blackboard some lines of verse from successive drafts of one of his poems, asking whether these lines (a) expressed what he wanted to express and (b) did so in the desired form. He then amended the lines to bring them closer either to the meaning he wanted to communicate or to the poetic form of that communication.
I was immediately struck by the similarities between his editing process and those associated with scientific investigation and began to wonder whether there was such a thing as a scientific method. Maybe the method on which science relies exists wherever we find systematic investigation. In saying there is no scientific method, what I mean, more precisely, is that there is no distinctly scientific method.
Continue reading

Why we are unaware of how unaware we are
via Boing Boing by David McRaney

Each one of us has a relationship with our own ignorance, a dishonest, complicated relationship, and that dishonesty keeps us sane, happy, and willing to get out of bed in the morning.
Part of that ignorance is a blind spot we each possess that obscures both our competence and incompetence.
Continue reading

The Battle of the Seine: Henry V's unknown naval triumph
via The National Archives Blog by Benjamin Trowbridge
With the limelight of the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt fading, the anniversary of a less well-known naval engagement fought in the mouth of the river Seine is approaching.
On 15 August 1416, a fleet of English ships under the command of the king Henry V’s brother the Duke of Bedford successfully defeated and scattered a Franco-Genoese naval force blockading the recently conquered port of Harfleur.
Continue reading
The anniversaries referred to were last year but I thought this was still of interest.

Maps lie: countries that fit inside other countries
via Boing Boing by Rob Beschizza
We all know the traditional, navigator-friendly Mercator projection distorts the true sizes of Earth’s landmasses. But it’s fascinating to see how countries look next to one another when that distortion is, as far as possible, removed. The tininess of Britain against Japan, for example, or the vastness of Alaska against France, become specific in this video from RealLifeLore. As for Greenland…
Continue reading

Tales of the Psammead
via An Awfully Big Blog Adventure by Lynne Benton
One of my favourite books from childhood was E. Nesbit’s “5 Children and It” – It being the Psammead, or Sand-Fairy, a strange creature with a round furry body and eyes out on stalks who says he can grant one wish a day. In the book, published in 1902, he does indeed give the five children (or more accurately, four children: Cyril, Anthea, Robert and Jane, and their baby brother, the Lamb) a wish every day. Unfortunately the children don’t necessarily think their ideas through, and every wish brings unexpected problems with it. However, the wishes only last until sunset, after which the children can think more carefully about what they will wish for the next day.
Continue reading

A collection of Victorian profanities
via OUP Blog
Euphemisms, per their definition, are used to soften offensive language. Topics such as death, sex, and bodily functions are often discussed delicately, giving way to statements like, “he passed away,” “we’re hooking up,” or “it’s that time of the month”.
Continue reading

Watch this helpful “Kids Guide to the Internet”
via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz
…from 1997.
On your mark, get set
Now we’re riding on the Internet
Cyberspace, sets us free
Hello virtual reality
Interactive appetite
Searching for a Web site…
Continue reading

Captain Fryatt: forgotten martyr of the First World War
via The National Archives Blog by Stephen Twigge
On 27 July 1916, Charles Algernon Fryatt, the Captain of the SS Brussels – a passenger ferry that ran between Harwich and neutral Holland – was executed by the Germans. He was only the second British civilian to be executed during the war; the other was nurse Edith Cavell, who was shot on the morning of 12 October 1915.
At the time, the executions of Cavell and Fryatt caused international outcry; their funerals were attended by thousands of enraged and patriotic mourners. While Nurse Cavell is now considered a martyr and a victim of German barbarism, the case of Captain Fryatt has all but disappeared from public consciousness.
Continue reading

No comments: