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An eclectic collection of wonderful things.

Last Build Date: Thu, 08 Feb 2018 16:58:06 +0000


Brain training for old dogs, with touchscreen games

Thu, 08 Feb 2018 16:58:06 +0000

From EurekAlert: Brain training for old dogs: Could touchscreen games be the Sudoku of man’s best friend? Spoiling old dogs in their twilight years by retiring them to the sofa and forgiving them their stubbornness or disobedience, doesn’t do our … Continue reading

Previously unknown language discovered in Southeast Asia

Wed, 07 Feb 2018 18:02:02 +0000

Happy news for language lovers! From EurekAlert: Unknown language discovered in Southeast Asia. A previously unknown language has been found in the Malay Peninsula by linguists from Lund University in Sweden. The language has been given the name Jedek. (…) … Continue reading

Best RSS app for Android?

Mon, 05 Feb 2018 21:16:16 +0000

I rely on RSS feeds to keep up with my favourite websites. For years I’ve been using a marvellous RSS aggregator to read news feeds on my Android device. But it went terribly wrong, alas. So I’ve been testing other … Continue reading

An exaltation of links! (February 2018)

Mon, 05 Feb 2018 19:01:13 +0000

An assortment of things to read as you sip your coffee, my dears. History and Archaeology The coolest news yesterday was this: Spain cracks King Ferdinand’s 500-year-old secret code. The BBC was good enough to inclue a photo of the … Continue reading

The gruesome history of eating corpses as medicine

Wed, 06 Dec 2017 20:49:54 +0000

This tidbit turned up in a blog post at Jason Fung’s site: A physician’s job has always been to heal the sick and give advice on how to stay healthy. There were medical treatments, to be sure – leeching, purging, … Continue reading

How Neolithic farming sowed the seeds of modern inequality 10,000 years ago

Tue, 05 Dec 2017 18:46:51 +0000

From The Guardian: How Neolithic farming sowed the seeds of modern inequality 10,000 years ago. Most people regard hierarchy in human societies as inevitable, a natural part of who we are. Yet this belief contradicts much of the 200,000-year history … Continue reading

A young chef invents ‘neo-fjordic’ cuisine

Mon, 04 Dec 2017 18:13:34 +0000

From the New York Times: North of Nordic: A Young Chef Invents ‘Neo-Fjordic’ Cuisine. Instead of foraging in the past for inspiration, Mr. Haatuft asked himself a hypothetical question: “If western Norway were a region of France, what would the … Continue reading

A public service announcement on how to get rid of leg cramps

Mon, 04 Dec 2017 17:42:29 +0000

Several years ago, I switched to a low-carb paleo diet. This did me fantastic amounts of good, but there was one problem: leg cramps at night. Sometimes I’d wake several times a night with really, really painful cramps in my … Continue reading

The age of the bed changed the way we sleep

Sun, 03 Dec 2017 20:18:02 +0000

When did beds become a thing, and what was sleep like before the modern era? Here’s a JSTOR article with some answers: How the age of the bed changed the way we sleep. A night without electric lights—not to mention … Continue reading

How the index card cataloged the world

Sun, 03 Dec 2017 19:49:15 +0000

I use more index cards than anyone I know, and Carl Linnaeus has fascinated me since I first heard of him years ago. So imagine my delight at finding this article: How the index card cataloged the world. The index … Continue reading

Come join me on Mastodon!

Sat, 18 Nov 2017 00:11:25 +0000

Have you heard about Mastodon? It’s a social network that is growing like crazy, and it’s not like the annoying networks you’ve come to hate. I joined a while ago, and like it a lot. I published a page about … Continue reading

Rise of the robots

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 18:53:15 +0000

A Walrus article, Rise of the Robots, claims that “Automated trucks will transform an industry and put millions out of work.” Hermann is just one of the thousands of truckers who can be found on BC’s roads at any given … Continue reading

Wealthy Vikings wore blue linen underwear

Tue, 24 Oct 2017 17:11:18 +0000

From ThorNews: Research: Wealthy Vikings Did Wear Blue Linen Underwear. It is hard to imagine Eric Bloodaxe and other feared Viking kings and chieftains wearing blue linen underwear. However, if the research carried out at the University of Bergen is … Continue reading

Medieval villagers mutilated the dead to stop them rising

Tue, 04 Apr 2017 04:40:14 +0000

From The Guardian: Medieval villagers mutilated the dead to stop them rising, study finds. A study by archaeologists has revealed certain people in medieval Yorkshire were so afraid of the dead they chopped, smashed and burned their skeletons to make … Continue reading

How Norwegians made sure criminals went to hell

Sat, 01 Apr 2017 17:13:52 +0000

From Science Nordic: How Norwegians made sure criminals went to hell. Skulls buried in a half-circle, facing southeast. A decapitated skeleton, with its head buried between its thighs and the feet cut off. Skeletons where the skulls have been removed … Continue reading

Swearing in Russian

Fri, 31 Mar 2017 18:28:32 +0000

From the summary of a Freakonomics podcast episode: Over hundreds of years, Russians have developed thousands of variations on four simple swear words that can mean anything under the sun. This collection of curses is large enough that Russians can … Continue reading

The case for more intellectual humility

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 18:16:06 +0000

From Nautilus: The Case for More Intellectual Humility. It’s not easy changing someone’s mind, especially if what you’re trying to change is something like their settled opinion. Only rarely does persuasion succeed in replacing one belief with its opposite, even … Continue reading

Pregnant women who eat fewer eggs and less meat can have kids with late brain development

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 17:25:15 +0000

From Science Nordic: Pregnant women who eat fewer eggs and meat can have kids with late brain development. Medical scientists have measured the vitamin status of infants and tested their social and theoretical skills five years later. They discovered differences … Continue reading

Margaret Atwood on what ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ means in the age of Trump

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 16:33:47 +0000

From the New York Times: Margaret Atwood on What ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Means in the Age of Trump. Back in 1984, the main premise seemed — even to me — fairly outrageous. Would I be able to persuade readers that … Continue reading

Heiltsuk First Nation village among oldest in North America

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 00:50:28 +0000

Wow. Not much cooler than this! From The Province: Heiltsuk First Nation village among oldest in North America: Archeologists. A Heiltsuk village site on B.C.’s mid-coast is three times as old as the Great Pyramid at Giza and among the … Continue reading

China’s high-tech tool to fight toilet paper bandits

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 21:32:16 +0000

From the New York Times: China’s High-Tech Tool to Fight Toilet Paper Bandits. BEIJING — The toilet paper thieves of the Temple of Heaven Park were an elusive bunch. They looked like most park visitors, practicing tai chi, dancing in … Continue reading

Ancient mice teeth show settled villages made ecological impact long before agriculture

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 05:55:36 +0000

From Ancient mice teeth show settled villages made ecological impact long before agriculture. Long before the advent of agriculture, hunter-gatherers began putting down roots in the Middle East, building more permanent homes and altering the ecological balance in ways … Continue reading

Who killed the Iceman? Clues emerge in a very cold case

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 05:37:05 +0000

From the New York Times: Who Killed the Iceman? Clues Emerge in a Very Cold Case. BOLZANO, Italy — When the head of a small Italian museum called Detective Inspector Alexander Horn of the Munich Police, she asked him if … Continue reading

Warrantless access in Canada

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 15:28:32 +0000

If you’re a Canadian who is concerned about privacy and digital rights, you’ll want to read the Vice article that shows “…the government is looking to restart a warrantless access program that had been declared unconstitutional.” How annoying is that? … Continue reading

Nuns model skillful ways to speak to ill seniors

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 06:02:26 +0000

Everybody should read this, but especially those who work with seniors or will become seniors themselves. From the CBC: Nuns model skillful ways to speak to ill seniors. The sisters caring for cognitively impaired elderly nuns in a Midwestern convent … Continue reading

A delightful dictionary for Canadian English

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 19:06:26 +0000

From the New Yorker: A Delightful Dictionary for Canadian English. A new musical opened on Broadway last week, “Come from Away,” about Gander, a small town in Newfoundland that rallied to care for some seven thousand travellers stuck there after … Continue reading

Rich dolphin, poor dolphin, beggar dolphin, thief

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 18:26:46 +0000

From Hakai Magazine: Rich Dolphin, Poor Dolphin, Beggar Dolphin, Thief. When we hear about the ways humans are affecting wild animals, it’s often in terms of numbers: populations, habitat area, or even fatalities. But off the coast of Savannah, Georgia, … Continue reading

Aratea: Making pictures with words in the 9th century

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 17:45:55 +0000

If illustrations from a 9th-century manuscript sound like something you’d like to see, this will ring your chimes. From the Public Domain Review: Making pictures with words in the 9th century. While popularised by Guillaume Apollinaire’s wonderful Calligrammes from 1918, … Continue reading

A new kind of DNA evidence

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 17:10:14 +0000

Suppose your cousin leaves DNA evidence at a crime scene… and then police arrive at your door, because your DNA is similar to your cousin’s, and police found your DNA in a genealogical database. Does that seem like a good … Continue reading

Ancient Romans depicted Huns as barbarians. Their bones tell a different story

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 07:04:20 +0000

From the Washington Post: Ancient Romans depicted Huns as barbarians. Their bones tell a different story. What the scientists found surprised them. While the Roman and Hunnic elites were at war, regular people living on the margins of these two … Continue reading

Crusader shipwreck tells a golden knights’ tale

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 21:33:53 +0000

From Crusader Shipwreck Tells a Golden Knights’ Tale. In the 13th century A.D., the city of Acre on Israel’s northern coast was a key stronghold for embattled European Crusaders defending Christianity in the Holy Land. But in 1291, a … Continue reading

Radical shakeup of dinosaur family tree points to unexpected Scottish origins

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 21:06:44 +0000

From the Guardian: Radical shakeup of dinosaur family tree points to unexpected Scottish origins. The most radical shakeup of the dinosaur family tree in a century has led scientists to propose an unlikely origin for the prehistoric beasts: an obscure … Continue reading

The face of a man who die 700 years ago is revealing how the poor lived in medieval England

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 17:51:26 +0000

From The Face Of A Man Who Died 700 Years Ago Is Revealing How The Poor Lived In Medieval England. As a collective civilization, we’ve made some strides in how we care for the poor and frail but, even … Continue reading

Risk insurance in the eighteenth century

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 17:48:50 +0000

From Wonders and Marvels: Risk Insurance in the Eighteenth Century. Travelers to distant lands have always known that risk is an inevitable part of the adventure. And from ancient times they invented ways to mitigate that risk. Medieval English guilds … Continue reading

Has been blocking your comments?

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 17:31:13 +0000

A reader wrote to me to say that she’s been unable to comment on – apparently the site thinks that she’s a spammer, so her comments have been blocked. Has that been happening to anybody else? This morning I … Continue reading

Icelandic drinking horn changes our historic understanding of St. Olav

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 16:23:27 +0000

From Science Daily: Icelandic drinking horn changes our historic understanding of St. Olav. After the Reformation, Norway’s Olav Haraldsson was no longer supposed to be worshipped as a saint. An Icelandic drinking horn offers some clues on how the saint’s … Continue reading

Deadly spider venom could ward off stroke brain damage

Mon, 20 Mar 2017 20:37:14 +0000

This could be hugely helpful. From the Guardian: Deadly spider venom could ward off stroke brain damage, say doctors. Doctors have stumbled on an unlikely source for a drug to ward off brain damage caused by strokes: the venom of … Continue reading

She stutters, but hardly anyone knows it

Mon, 20 Mar 2017 19:24:44 +0000

From Science Nordic: She stutters, but hardly anyone knows it. Berit Løkken belongs to a category of stutterers that many have never heard of, so-called covert stutterers. They are also a rather ignored factor in medical and psycho-social science. She … Continue reading

Secrets from smart devices find path to US legal system

Mon, 20 Mar 2017 16:30:35 +0000

From Secrets from smart devices find path to US legal system. An Ohio man claimed he was forced into a hasty window escape when his house caught fire last year. His pacemaker data obtained by police showed otherwise, and … Continue reading

Boston public schools map switch aims to amend 500 years of distortion

Sun, 19 Mar 2017 22:27:20 +0000

A Guardian article tells us that Boston public schools are switching maps. Instead of using the Mercator projection maps most of us are used to, Boston will now be using Peters projection maps. The article begins: When Boston public schools … Continue reading